Good morning backcountry travelers this is Matt Murphy with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, November 25th at 7am. 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).
Turnagain Pass and Johnson Pass North Trail Head motorized use areas are open for snowmobile use. Adequate snow is present to prevent resource damage. These areas consist of the lands on the west side of the Seward Highway between the Turnagain Arm and Sixmile Creek and the drainage Southwest of Bench Creek adjacent to the Johnson Pass North Trailhead south to Bench Lake. Center and Divide Creek Drainages are closed to snowmachine use.
All CNFAIC Staff areas of the Chugach NF are closed to motorized use until December 1st or adequate snow to prevent resource damage.
-TEMPS: have cooled off at all weather stations around Turnagain Pass since yesterday morning by 3-5 degrees. The snow level is forecasted to be around 900′ today
-PRECIP: There has been(0.1 inches) precip that has fallen in 24 hours in the form of mixed snow/rain, and NOAA is forecasting (0.25 inches) of precip for today.
-WIND: I suspect the ridgetop weather station anemometers are iced up and not functioning properly this morning; so its, tough the say exactly what the wind is doing right now. Seattle Ridge at 2400′ appears to be working fine recording light to strong winds in the past 24 hours averaging between 6-36mph with an extreme max gust of 53mph.
The avalanche danger rating will remain at MODERATE due to the potential for small to medium sized human-triggered avalanches along ridges and natural avalanches due to the glide cracks that are widespread throughout the region.
There is a 1/4 inch thick rain crust that extends up to the ridgetops to at least 3500′ and it is widespread throughout the Turnagain Arm area. This crust has all the characteristic to become a very dangerous weak layer as soon as there is more snow on top of it. Right now, there is only a dusting to a couple of inches of snow on top of this crust. Yesterday on Tincan, we obseved that this snow seems to be bonding fairly well at lower to mid elevations where the snow fell at warmer temps. The new snow above 2500′ was not boding as well to this rain crust because of drier colder snow at these higher elevations.
We saw wind transporting snow along ridges while hiking up Tincan yesterday, and the Seattle Ridge weather station recorded some strong winds yesterday. Use extra caution along ridges where there are newly formed wind slabs or pockets of snow that look fat. These isolated pockets will not bond to the ice crust very well today. Pockets like these will be the most likely areas for human-triggered avalanches today.
The glide cracks and glide avalanches continue to be present, with new ones being observed region-wide on a daily basis. Be aware of your travel routes and try to avoid spending time below the cracks. The only way to reduce your risk from glide avalanches is to avoid traveling below the obvious cracks.
This photo shows an example of a glide crack and a glide avalanche on the South face of Cornbiscuit taken on 11-16-10. For scale take note that the crack is 4-6 feet deep. The glide crack on the left hand side of this photo has already avalanched; while, the glide crack on the right is still a hazard that could avalanche any day. Avoid traveling underneath glide cracks just like the one on the right hand side of this photo.
The Nation Weather Service weather forecast for:
WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-
500 AM AKST THU NOV 25 2010
.TODAY…SNOW AND RAIN. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 2 INCHES.
HIGHS IN THE 30S. NORTHWEST WIND 15 MPH EXCEPT NORTH 10 TO 25 MPH
.TONIGHT…SNOW IN THE EVENING…THEN SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS
AFTER MIDNIGHT. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH. LOWS IN THE LOWER
20S TO LOWER 30S. NORTHWEST WIND 10 TO 15 MPH EXCEPT NORTH 30 TO
40 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
.FRIDAY…PARTLY CLOUDY. PATCHY MORNING FOG. HIGHS IN THE
LOWER 20S TO LOWER 30S. NORTHWEST WIND 10 TO 15 MPH EXCEPT NORTH
20 TO 30 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 37 29 30 / 80 70 0
GIRDWOOD 33 21 23 / 80 70 0
WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:
3800′-Sunburst Wx Station
Temp (5am): 24 (3 degrees colder than yesterday morning)
Winds: *Anemometer is probably iced up and not working properly*In last 24 hours winds have been light averaging 0-5mph with a light max gust of 6 mph
2400′-Seattle Ridge Wx Station
Temp (5am): 27 (3 degrees colder than yesterday morning).
Winds: In last 24 hours have been light to strong averaging 6-36mph with an extreme max gust of 53mph.
1800′-Center Ridge Wx Station
Temp (6am): 29 (5 degrees colder than yesterday morning)
Precip: 0.1 inches of water, ~40″ of total snopack depth
The next advisory will be issued tomorrow Friday morning 11/26/2010 at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or call and leave a message at 907-754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.