Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, January 4th 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 danger is LOW with pockets of MODERATE for wind slabs, sluffing, cornices, and glide avalanches. The majority of terrain has a low probability of avalanching. The areas with avalanche possibilities are low volume and minor in size and consequence.
We’ve been enjoying a brilliant run of good backcountry conditions over the last week. Today should be more of the same, with cold and clear weather. Increasing wind today could increase the likelihood of finding wind slabs.
The pockets of Moderate danger have so far proven to be very minor. The biggest concern is being knocked off balance by an anomalous wind slab or sluff in “no-fall”, high consequence terrain. We haven’t seen anything in Turnagain Pass over the last week that could bury a person, or cause significant damage by itself. A handful of recent reports have mentioned small sluff or slabs carrying enough volume or surprise factor to be noteworthy.
Small surface hoar has been spotted around the region the last couple days. We haven’t seen much of this so far this winter. Remember, it can be a dangerous weak layer when it gets buried by the next storm.
South of Turnagain Pass the snowpack is showing its typical shallow and weak character. Pit tests show strong snow on top of 2 prominent weak layers, one from the cold November stretch, and one from the December 3rd crust. Both of these weaknesses have potential to slide if we get a significant storm. A report from Sunday mentioned wind plumes at the ridgetops with numerous associated slab avalanches in the Summit region.
Yesterday we saw fog over Turnagain Pass, which opened above to clear skies and light wind above the clouds. Cold temperatures continue today with partly sunny skies. Wind is expected to increase today with gap wind around Whittier up to 85mph as a storm system approaches from the Gulf. Ridgetop winds are predicted to be significantly less, reaching into the 30s tonight.
Tomorrow, the chance of snow is 90%, so expect avalanche possibilities to begin to increase.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Wendy will issue the next advisory Thursday 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.