Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, January 11th 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 was HIGH for a period yesterday during the peak of the storm. As the wind and snowfall have decreased since then, the avalanche danger has also dropped back to a CONSIDERABLE rating. Natural avalanches are still possible, human triggered avalanches are likely. If the Seward Highway opens today, travel in the backcountry will require expert level routefinding skills to stay in safe areas.
Most avalanches happen during or immediately after a storm. We are still in the tail end of an intense storm, meaning your likelihood of finding avalanches is quite high today.
Department of Transportation crews shot down a large avalanche across the Seward highway on Bird Flats yesterday, between the community of Bird and Bird point. The character of the avalanche was dry, fast moving, and obviously of significant size. We have limited information from CNFAIC Staff areas simply because the storm has been too intense to go anywhere or see anything. Wind was reaching gusts over 100mph on Sunburst for nearly 8 hours straight before the anemometer broke. Around 16 inches of snow fell during that time, creating sizeable drifts and wind slabs up high.
If you head to the backcountry today, a healthy amount of respect for the new snow is warranted. Time will strengthen the interfaces and drop the avalanche potential, but today is too soon to be jumping onto steep slopes. I will be approaching the backcountry today with a critical eye, staying on lower angle sheltered terrain, and following strict travel protocol to expose only one person at a time.
The storm peaked yesterday afternoon with hurricane force wind and heavy snowfall. The same storm system will continue affecting our region today and tomorrow with less wind and additional snowfall. 5-8 inches of snow is forecast for today with Southeast wind 34-44mph and temperatures approaching the melting point.
According to the National Weather Service, the Low currently south of Kodiak will move into Prince William Sound and stall. “THIS WILL PROVIDE A SOURCE OF MOISTURE TO
THE ATMOSPHERE THAT SHOULD RESULT IN A LONG-DURATION EVENT OF
MODERATE SNOW FROM THE KENAI PENINSULA TO THE ANCHORAGE AREA AND UP
THROUGH THE SUSITNA VALLEY.”
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.