Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Monday, January 9th 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 is a MODERATE avalanche danger today for wind slab avalanches on slopes with recent wind loading. Human triggered avalanches are possible and most likely to be triggered on rollovers, near ridgelines and above gullies. Careful evaluation of recent wind deposited snow on steep slopes above treeline will be prudent.
Low visibility, once again, hampered observations of avalanche activity, or lack of, from the past few days. However, folks were able to get on the ridgelines to varying degrees and poke around a bit. Check out the photos/observations page for several new submissions. Winds did pick up enough yesterday to begin forming small and shallow wind drifts. One surprise found was a widespread (up to at least 3600′) thin and fragile rime crust near the surface that formed Saturday night. This is more of an issue for dampening face, or over the hood, shots today but could be a concern for a future weak layer tomorrow – we will keep a close eye on it.
The primary concern today is focused on wind slabs that have formed with the recent winds overnight and winds throughout the day. Though these winds have not been too intense (gusts in the 20’s), they were still able to transport snow into small and sensitive pillows yesterday and there is a good chance areas exist where larger wind pockets and slabs lurk. Watch for areas that have received more wind than is suggested by the weather stations. Slopes in the steeper terrain with recent wind deposited snow will be most likely place to trigger an avalanche today. Watch for stiff feeling snow and cracking in the snow around you as this is a prime indication the slope could slide.
In areas without recent wind effect, the new snow is bonding well with itself as well as with the older snow surface in the Turnagain Pass region. These areas have a decreased avalanche danger today.
The northwest winds were blowing a bit more in the Summit area yesterday. This region continues to show a more concerning snowpack structure than the Turnagain Pass area. Careful snowpack evaluation is necessary as there are a couple weak layers of facets, crusts and now, likely new wind slabs on top.
Mostly cloudy to completely obscured skies covered our area yesterday with occasional flurries, which added a trace of snow. Temperatures dropped to the single digits at most upper elevations and the winds were light to moderate from the northwest.
We have a brief break in the weather today as the low pressure sitting in the Gulf has moved out and anCNFAIC Staff, warmer and much more potent low, will move in tomorrow (stay tuned for this storm). Skies have cleared overnight and temperatures have dropped to the single digits at most locations with northwesterly winds gusting around 20mph. Skies should remain fairly clear today with temperatures chilly, in the single digits. Winds are forecast to blow around 10mph with gusts in the 20’s from the northwest.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Graham will issue the next advisory Tuesday 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.