Good morning backcountry travelers this is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, March 26th 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).
The Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center will be hosting a beacon park this Sunday at Glen Alps (Flattop trailhead). Show up to hone your transceiver skills in this free event from 12-4pm. Beacon park donated by Backcountry Access.
Today’s avalanche danger rating is LOW with pockets of MODERATE.
Some isolated areas of steep terrain are still not supporting the new snow very well. Be on the lookout for pockets of deeper storm slabs that may be sensitive to human triggers.
Field checking the new snow yesterday showed a settled depth of 5-6 inches at higher elevations in Turnagain Pass. The new snow visually smoothed out the slopes, but you can easily still feel the old surface texture underneath. The skiing quality is marginally improved, but certainly not fixed.
Bonding of the new snow to the old surface is not bad, not great. We found slight reactivity to skiers yesterday and CNFAIC Staff reports were in line with what we saw. The new snow will slide off the old surface given a steep enough slope and gentle prodding from a backcountry traveler. Fortunately the small volume won’t be dangerous unless it happens in high consequence areas or above a terrain trap. Still, something to keep in mind today.
The old deeper weak layers are worth a mention for shallower zones. Our new snow added some stress to the pack, which will slightly increase the possibility of triggering these deeper layers. The greatest concern is in thinner zones such as Summit and Crow Pass.
Outside forecast area
For people headed North to Hatcher pass this weekend, the level of concern should be higher in that region. It’s been a week since the fatality on Hatch peak. Despite what some media reports said about that avalanche, it was not an isolated event. Hatcher pass has an exceptionally weak snowpack with areas of hard slab and new snow on top. All backcountry use in the Talkeetna mountains should be done with an elevated sense of caution, using good judgement with terrain choices and safe travel techniques.
TIP OF THE DAY
Check out this video to show what happens when a skier above triggers an avalanche onto a skier below. This is a great reminder why we should only expose one person at a time. Watch your buddies from a safe spot and clear out to a safe area below before the next person rides the slope. It’s an easy ritual to follow that effectively saves lives.
Encyclopedia of avalanche terms.
Yesterday brought only a trace to 1 inch of new snow. 2-4 inches are predicted today with light wind and mild temperatures. The series of weak low pressure systems in the Gulf of Alaska may continue to give us snow showers for the next several days, but nothing substantial is predicted.
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 AKDT SAT MAR 26 2011
.TODAY…SNOW IN THE MORNING…THEN A CHANCE OF SNOW AND RAIN IN THE
AFTERNOON. SNOW ACCUMULATION 1 TO 3 INCHES. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO
LOWER 40S. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 10 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
.TONIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW. LOWS IN THE MID TEENS TO
MID 30S…COOLEST INLAND. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 10 MPH NEAR
.SUNDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S
TO LOWER 40S. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 10 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
.SUNDAY NIGHT…NUMEROUS SNOW SHOWERS IN THE EVENING…THEN
SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S TO
LOWER 30S…COOLEST INLAND. LIGHT WINDS.
.MONDAY…CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS. HIGHS IN THE MID
30S TO LOWER 40S. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 15 MPH NEAR SEWARD.
TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION
SEWARD 40 28 41 / 80 30 40
GIRDWOOD 36 24 37 / 100 40 50
WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:
-3800′ Sunburst Wx Station-
Temperature 20. Light East wind.
-2600′ Seattle Ridge Wx Station-
23 degrees. Light SE wind.
-1800′ Center Ridge Wx Station-
Temps in the mid 20s. A trace to 1 inch of snow fell yesterday.