Good morning and Happy New Year! This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Sunday, January 1st 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).
There are pockets of MODERATE danger today in an CNFAIC Staffwise LOW danger setting. These pockets are for small, fresh wind slabs and human triggered sluffs found primarily in steep terrain at the mid and upper elevations. Both of these concerns are likely to be manageable. However, if winds pick up more than forecast today, wind pockets could be larger and more problematic.
Cheers to the New Year and cheers to a good looking snowpack heading into the New Year. It has been a great start to the 2011/2012 winter season. Stay tuned for a wrap up of our early season tomorrow.
Yesterday was anCNFAIC Staff day with visibility good enough for many folks to get out and about in steep and extreme terrain. Minor loose snow sluffing and small, one could say mini (2-6” deep and 2-10′ wide), wind slabs were the only avalanche activity seen or reported. These were not running far and packing little punch.
Today, our primary concern continues to be small wind slabs and sluffs that lie within the surface snow and are a relatively small avalanche problem. These mini-wind slabs and sluffs, though usually minor, could cause some headache if knocked over in the wrong place, i.e., above a cliff band or into a terrain trap. Therefore, even in a generally LOW danger situation, it is a good idea to continue using good travel practices, terrain management and a keep close eye on your buddies.
Though the winds have been light for the past several days, and look to be similar today, they are forecast to increase this evening. If the winds happen to increase today more than forecast, keep a close eye out for quick forming and touchy wind slabs off the ridgelines.
South of Turnagain Pass the snowpack is showing it’s typical shallow and weak character. There is a notable difference in the snowpack strength between Turnagain and Summit. If you are stuck in the mindset of strong and stable, try to think differently when traveling in the weaker zones toward Summit.
It was anCNFAIC Staff cold, but pleasant, day in the backcountry yesterday. Partly cloudy skies with light northerly winds helped to tame the chilly single digits. Overnight, the cold temperatures have dropped into the minus single digits at most stations, regardless of elevation. Winds have remained light from the north.
Today, expect similar conditions to the past several days: Cold, partly to mostly cloudy skies, light isolated snow showers and light northerly winds. Temperatures may creep up just enough to break into the positive single digits and light snow showers may add an inch or two in some areas. Northerly winds look to increase slightly into the teens at the ridge tops today and into the 25mph range tonight.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
I will issue the next advisory tomorrow 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.