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Issued
Sat, December 24th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sun, December 25th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, December 24th 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).

ANNOUNCEMENT

Placer river valley and the Skookum valley are opening today for motorized use. Be aware of thin snow conditions and areas of thin ice over water. 20 mile will remain closed until we get more snow cover at sea level.

BOTTOM LINE

The avalanche danger is generally LOW with pockets of MODERATE for wind slabs, and cornices. Our data between Girdwood and Turnagain Pass is showing very few issues to be worried about. Farther South of Turnagain Pass we have limited information, but a couple of observations suggest there could be pockets of lingering instability in that shallower and weaker snowpack.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION

Thursday night’s storm brought copious amounts of snow to the Anchorage bowl, but only 2-4 inches for Turnagain Pass. That small skiff of light surface snow did almost nothing to increase the avalanche danger, but did improve the riding conditions above treeline. We were finding our tracks could trigger minor sluffing in the soft surface snow, but CNFAIC Staffwise it remained light and unconsolidated.

Digging in, you will find about 4 feet of settled storm snow from the month of December. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact interfaces between the weekly Sunday storms we got. That difficulty means that the density between the storms was similar (good), and it means that bonding is happening between the storm layers (great!). All of our observations are showing green light conditions.

The primary concern is isolated pockets of unstable snow including cornices and associated wind slabs at the ridges. If you choose to ride steeper and exposed routes this weekend, be aware of those hazards as you drop in. You may find variations if you travel outside our core forecast area.

MOUNTAIN WEATHER

The 2-4 inches of snow on Thursday night is the latest to hit our area. Storm totals in Turnagain over the last week add up to about 30 inches. Temperatures are dropping and wind has died off over the last couple days. Today, snow is possible in the evening, but expect cloudy skies and a chance of snow showers for the daylight hours.

Weather forecasters are talking about a pattern shift for the storms tracking into Alaska. For much of December the storms were traveling North into the Bering Sea, with fronts spinning off and giving Southcentral snow and high wind. The new trend is tracking the storms into the Gulf of Alaska, with colder air dominating interior Alaska. Snow in Southcentral and below freezing temperatures will be the general trend for the foreseeable future. Check out this link for a short video of our upcoming Christmas weather.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Wendy will issue the next advisory Sunday morning. 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.

Sat, December 24th, 2011
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.
Observations
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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.