Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Monday, January 2nd 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).
Pockets of MODERATE danger exist today for fresh wind slab avalanches. These will be found in scattered areas where the winds have picked up and drifted snow into sensitive pockets, mainly in the higher elevations. CNFAIC Staffwise, there is a LOW avalanche danger for all terrain without recent wind effect.
It was a cold and quite day in the backcounty yesterday. No avalanche activity was seen or reported, save for a glide on Magnum, possibly from Dec 31st.
Today’s avalanche concern lies with the winds that picked up yesterday and are forecast to blow in the moderate range (~20mph) from the northwest today. Though the winds are not very strong, scattered wind plumes were seen off some peaks around Turnagain Pass yesterday. This is proof that wind loading was occurring in certain areas and this trend may have continued overnight. Keep any eye out for steep slopes with recent wind loading. Wind slabs that have, or are forming, are likely to be sensitive and not bonding well to the underlying surface in our cold temperatures. Cracking around your skis, board or snowmachine will be clues these slabs are touchy.
In terrain that doesn’t see wind loading, the snowpack is in good shape and quite solid in the Turnagain Pass and Girdwood areas. Minor sluffing on steep slopes is still possible and though unlikely, cornice breaks or a glide avalanche are concerns worthy to keep in mind as well.
A reminder that south of Turnagain Pass, mainly in the Summit Lake region, the snowpack has notable differences in its strength and structure. More caution and snowpack evaluation should be used in this area.
The monthly weather chart for December can be found HERE.
Our cold and partly cloudy conditions continued yet again yesterday. Temperatures stayed in the minus single digits at most locations. Winds picked up a bit as well, with gusts around 15mph from the northwest. Overnight, temperatures have risen a few degrees and are sitting just above 0F currently, except for valley bottoms where the cold air has pooled. The NW winds have increased slightly overnight, averaging 10-15mph with gusts in the 20’s.
Today, we can expect anCNFAIC Staff cold day with partly cloudy skies, but add to that a little more wind. Temperatures should remain in the positive single digits and winds are forecast to increase from the NW, averaging around 20mph with gusts into the 30’s. This pattern looks to be here for a few more days with the next chance for snow possibly later this week.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Graham 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.