Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, January 26th 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 danger today for human triggered wind slab avalanches in any area with an increase in wind. Easterly winds have picked up slightly this morning and are forecast to blow between 20-30mph on the peaks. Areas without wind will continue to see sluffing in the surface snow as well as the possible addition of 2-4″ forecast today. If snowfall or wind intensifies more than forecast the danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE.
I believe few would disagree that the riding conditions have been awesome. The 2-3+’ of fluff is settling out and becoming more supportable and less bottomless. As people have been working their way further and further from the road near Turnagain Pass, the snowpack is showing signs of bonding well and the only avalanche activity has been human triggered sluffs on steeper slopes. This includes a few cornice drops (performed safely and with no one below) and snowpack analysis. Keep in mind much of the steep and radical terrain has yet to be tested and should be treated with respect and careful snowpack evaluation.
Near Whittier yesterday, strong winds loaded slopes and one natural avalanche released which covered the road. In our forecast zone we have not seen these strong winds, yet this is a reminder as to how quickly the avalanche danger can rise with a significant increase in wind. AnCNFAIC Staff report of collapsing came in yesterday as well, this one in a buried surface hoar layer found in a lower elevation drainage in the Girdwood Valley and not seen above the alder line.
Today, wind slab avalanches will be the primary concern for anyone traveling in areas where the winds are picking up. There is plenty of loose snow that will be easily blown around and into sensitive wind pockets and slabs. Watch for the usual suspects: drifting/blowing snow, hollow feeling snow, cracking in the snow around you and collapsing. If the wind increases more than forecast, the danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE.
CNFAIC Staffwise, in areas with calm to light winds, the few inches of snow forecast today should add to the sluffing issues we have seen recently. These are often manageable with awareness of how and where any sluff you initiate will run.
Yesterday a trace of snow fell in a few places, temperatures cooled off into the single digits and visibility was in and out with overcast skies. Winds have been calm on the ridgetops. Overnight, light snow showers and colder temperatures have moved in. Around 1-2″ of snow has fallen in Girdwood as of this morning and likely similar on Turnagain Pass. Winds have just picked up slightly from the southeast with gusts in the teens.
Today widespread light snow showers should continue and could add anCNFAIC Staff 2-4″, with possibly more in some areas. Temperatures are dropping and are in the minus single digits above 1000′ with positive single digits below 1000′. Expect winds to pick up into the moderate category from the southeast (10mph gusting into the 20-30mph range) on the ridgetops.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
I will issue the next advisory Friday 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.