Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, December 10th 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 avalanche hazard will increase today proportionately to the snow and wind from the storm. The danger level will likely go through a wide spectrum, from generally LOW this morning to CONSIDERABLE tonight as the storm ramps up. The most dangerous conditions likely to be encountered during daylight hours today are MODERATE. Watch the weather and make travel decisions based on the conditions you are seeing.
There are 2 distinct discussions today – before the storm and after the storm arrives.
1. Before the storm arrives late today the primary concern is isolated windslab at upper elevations. Watch the snow depth and feel the density changes as you travel to track those slabs. Be aware they could break unexpectedly near ridgetops under human weight.
All of our data indicates a decreasing avalanche trend over the last few days. That trend will continue this morning but reverse this afternoon.
2. AnCNFAIC Staff storm is entering the region and intensifying by 6pm. Heavy snow, wind, and increased temperatures are expected, which will raise the avalanche danger. The general pattern is very similar to the storm from a week ago. It looks like it won’t affect people doing day trips today, but could become dangerous quickly in the evening and by tomorrow morning. The National Weather Service is issuing a Blizzard Warning at 6pm tonight for Turnagain Pass North. A Blizzard Warning means that severe winter weather conditions are expected. All travel and outdoor activity is strongly discouraged.
This week has been a mixed bag of weather. The intense storm last Sunday caused many natural avalanches from Seward to Hatcher Pass. Since then a mid week snowfall covered the breakable rain crust with a pleasant 4-8 inches of dry snow. Tonight, conditions will change again with Blizzard conditions forecasted. A deep Low in the Bering Sea is bringing an intense stream of moisture from lower latitudes North into Alaska. Heavy snow tonight with 7-16 inches is expected. East wind 40-60mph or higher.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.