Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, December 30th 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).
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The avalanche danger is LOW with pockets of MODERATE for wind slabs, and cornices. The most common type of snow to be found right now is loose powder. Some areas at higher elevations will have wind-stiffened pockets, and may be prone to isolated slabs 1-2 feet deep or unstable cornices.
We keep looking for the avalanche problem, but we haven’t found anything in the last couple days that bCNFAIC Staffs us too much. There are areas near the ridgetops where wind has built stiffer pockets. Despite this, people are skiing and riding some big exposed lines around Turnagain pass with no reported issues. We have received observations that some areas have a crust underneath the loose powder. This could become a problem if the wind picks up and blows that light loose snow into deeper slabs on top of the crust.
The surface snow in most areas is loose powder. Sluffing is possible where the loose snow falls away in a point release. Most people will find this to be a good thing, but it’s worth noting that even sluff avalanches can carry a punch and might need specific technique to avoid getting hurt. Check out this discussion on “sluff management”.
We’ve also gotten a few reports about glide activity in the last few days. Girdwood valley has experienced a few glide avalanches in remote areas. Some of the cracks in Turnagain Pass have visibly gotten larger, creating more of the crevasse hazards that we saw in November. Even in this colder weather the snow is moving, ever so slowly, as a cohesive unit.
Snow has been falling over the last week, 1-2 inches at a time. The next couple days will continue that trend with no major storm, but cold snow is possible each day. Wind has been light, and temperatures remain close to 0 degrees at 4000 feet.
The next storm could happen around Sunday, although the confidence in that prediction remains low.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
I will issue the next advisory Saturday 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.