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Issued
Sat, January 2nd, 2010 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sun, January 3rd, 2010 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
CNFAIC Staff
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning backcountry travelers this is Carl Skustad with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, January 2nd at 7 am. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).

ANNOUNCEMENTS

All areas designated for snowmachines on the Chugach National Forest are open to snowmachines except Placer and 20 Mile. Please remember that Center and Divide Creeks near the Johnson Pass North Trailhead are always closed due to the current Forest Plan.

WEATHER ROUNDUP

3800′ -Sunburst Wx Station-

11 deg F, winds are averaging 12-18 with gusts of 19-23 out of the E

3400′ –Fresno Ridge Wx Station-

11 deg F, winds are averaging 5 with gusts of 10-14 out of the SSE

2400′-Seattle Ridge Wx Station-

winds are averaging 12-14 with gusts to 16 out of the SE

1800′-Center Ridge Wx Station-

Precip: 0.0 inches of water

Total depth of 59 inches after 1″ of settlement

12 deg F

Summit Creek-

Precip: 0. 0 inches of water

Total depth of 30 inches, -7.6 deg F

Forecast

WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-

INCLUDING…WHITTIER…SEWARD…GIRDWOOD…MOOSE PASS

500 AM AKST SAT JAN 2 2010

.TODAY…INCREASING CLOUDS IN THE MORNING. SNOW LIKELY BY AFTERNOON.

SNOW ACCUMULATION 1 TO 2 INCHES. HIGHS IN THE MID TEENS TO UPPER

20S…COLDEST INLAND. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 15 TO 25 MPH NEAR

SEWARD.

.TONIGHT…SNOW. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 3 INCHES. LOWS ZERO TO 20

ABOVE…COLDEST INLAND. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 15 TO 25 MPH NEAR

SEWARD.

.SUNDAY…NUMEROUS SNOW SHOWERS. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 2 INCHES.

HIGHS IN THE 20S. VARIABLE WIND 10 MPH EXCEPT NORTH 10 TO 20 MPH

NEAR SEWARD.

.SUNDAY NIGHT…SNOW. LOWS 10 TO 20 ABOVE. VARIABLE WIND 10 MPH

EXCEPT EAST 10 TO 25 MPH THROUGH PORTAGE VALLEY AND TURNAGAIN

ARM.

.MONDAY…SNOW AND RAIN LIKELY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 20S TO MID

30S. EAST WIND 15 TO 20 MPH EXCEPT EAST 20 TO 35 MPH THROUGH

PORTAGE VALLEY AND TURNAGAIN ARM.

.MONDAY NIGHT…RAIN AND SNOW LIKELY. LOWS 15 TO 25.

TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION

SEWARD 28 10 28 / 70 70 60

GIRDWOOD 15 11 28 / 60 80 50

The winds are starting to pick up around the advisory area with ridgetop gusts to 23 out of the east. A slight inversion still exists in the Girdwood Valley and Summit Lake. Summit is the coldest at -7.6 deg F. Fog persisted yesterday below 1200 feet, expect this to mix out as low pressure and precip move into the area this afternoon. The radar and satellite currently show clear skies, with snow showers building in Prince William Sound. Multiple lows are stacked up to the south and southwest. Expect a change in the weather pattern with warmer temperatures and an increased chance of snow.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION

One more day of limited weather and no natural or human triggered avalanches in the last week will allow our avalanche hazard to remain at LOW today. LOW is defined as: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Terrain features to be mindful of include steep rollovers (>38 %) near ridgetops and hanging snowfields that look wind loaded.

Depending on the timing of this afternoon’s snow fall and the amount, the chance of small avalanche activity will increase with new snow and wind.

On New Years Eve we found two layers of interest at 8 and 10 inches below the snows surface. Both of these layers failed easily in stability tests (CT 6 and CT 11 Q2). These layers looked to be mid storm interfaces and should heal over time. The surface snow ranged from surface hoar to surface faceting. Death crust below 2000 ft and fairly good snow above. I have also noticed that cornices are getting quite large in size and that large chunks have been breaking off. Mostly triggered by humans. Make sure you give them lots of space. A great picture of a cornice break exists in our photo gallery.

AnCNFAIC Staff concern today will be the glide cracks. A couple of large glide cracks have opened north of the snowmachine up track to Seattle ridge. Odds are there are numerous more of these crevasse like features which may be difficult to see. People and dogs have fallen into these cracks before, and they can be very difficult to get out of. Sometimes these glide cracks will avalanche, but this does not appear to be a concern today. It’s always a good idea to treat glide cracks like cornices and avoid traveling underneath their path. Like cornices, glide cracks are very difficult to predict.

Always remember that safe backcountry travel requires training and experience. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.

If you get out in the backcountry give us a call or email us with your snow and avalanche observations. Thanks for checking today’s avalanche advisory and have a great day.

Sat, January 2nd, 2010
Alpine
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
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This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.