Good morning backcountry travelers this is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, March 12th 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).
Today’s avalanche danger rating is LOW with pockets of MODERATE. Warm, sunny weather and calm wind is melting the surface snow on South aspects in the afternoon. Wet loose and wet slab avalanches can be a problem late in the day if it warms up enough. Lingering deep instabilities remain an isolated problem in shallow, steep, and rocky areas.
Conditions haven’t really changed at all in the last week. Snow quality is poor, making for difficult survival skiing. Warm temperatures, sunny skies, and good stability are still good reasons to hit the backcountry this weekend despite the snow.
Backcountry avalanche hazard is probably the lowest it’s been since December. A lack of new snow in the last 3 weeks has steadily brought the danger down. 2 specific concerns are worth considering if you get out this weekend.
If sunny South facing slopes warm up enough today they could present a wet avalanche hazard. We have mostly seen low consequence point releases over the last few days caused by sunny weather. In some places you could push and entrain quite a bit of snow, which can fall large distances. If the snow becomes “pushable” this afternoon, be aware that it could break out larger slabs and become dangerous. This is more pronounced at lower elevations or mid slope where it’s warmer and less windy.
The lingering deep instabilities are still worth talking about. This hazard is much lower than 3 weeks ago, but the potential consequences deserve some respect. Shallower areas like Summit still show many slab releases from the last wind storm. The weather has not done much to “heal” the weaknesses, but it also hasn’t been adding stress. In isolated steep and shallow areas it may still be possible to trigger these layers.
Encyclopedia of avalanche terms.
Clear skies. Cold at night and warm during the day. Temperatures this morning are the coldest they have been in a week. Forecasted high temperatures may not be warm enough to cause significant changes on the South aspects. A chance of snow is finally in the extended forecast for next Friday, giving us a glimmer of hope.
Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call at 754-2369 or send us your observations using the button at the top of this page. Thanks and have a great day.
The NWS weather forecast for:
WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-
500 AM AKST SAT MAR 12 2011
.TODAY…SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE MID 20S TO MID 30S. VARIABLE WIND TO 10
MPH EXCEPT SOUTHWEST WIND 10 TO 20 MPH NEAR WHITTIER.
.TONIGHT…CLEAR. LOWS 10 BELOW TO 10 ABOVE EXCEPT 15 TO 20 NEAR
SEWARD AND WHITTIER. VARIABLE WIND TO 10 MPH EXCEPT SOUTHWEST WIND 10
TO 20 MPH NEAR WHITTIER.
.SUNDAY…SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 20S TO LOWER 30S. LIGHT WINDS
EXCEPT NORTH 10 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
.SUNDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS 5 BELOW TO 15 ABOVE…COOLEST
INLAND. VARIABLE WIND 10 MPH.
.MONDAY…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 20S TO MID 30S.
VARIABLE WIND TO 10 MPH.
.MONDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 5 TO 15.
.TUESDAY AND TUESDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS 25 TO 35. LOWS
5 TO 15.
.WEDNESDAY…MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS 25 TO 35.
.WEDNESDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS ZERO TO 10 ABOVE.
.THURSDAY…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS 25 TO 35.
.THURSDAY NIGHT AND FRIDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW.
LOWS 5 TO 15. HIGHS 25 TO 35.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 32 14 32 / 0 0 0
GIRDWOOD 29 10 27 / 0 0 0
WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:
-3800′ Sunburst Wx Station-
9 degrees at 6am. Light wind from the West.
-2600′ Seattle Ridge Wx Station-
11 degrees at 6am. Light wind from the NNE.
-1800′ Center Ridge Wx Station-
9 degrees at 6am. No new snow.