Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Sunday, January 29th 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 MODERATE in specific wind loaded pockets in steep terrain. We saw one example on Friday of a significant avalanche in a cross loaded South facing gully. Much of the region where most people are skiing, on terrain up to about 38 degrees, has a LOW avalanche danger.
No major news yesterday is keeping the status quo in the backcountry again today. Saturday was a busy day in Turnagain Pass, with skiers and riders stepping it up a notch in terrain. Sluffing looks to be manageable, although still a factor in steep terrain. Pockets of wind slab are found in the usual areas – near ridgetops and rollovers. We neither saw nor heard of any significant avalanche yesterday like the one from Friday.
Primary Concern – Wind loaded pockets in steep terrain.
Larger pockets that might have the ability to propagate into a larger avalanche seem to be rare, but not unheard of. The wind event on Thursday, with ridgetop gusts to about 35mph, formed some slabs of stiffer and cohesive snow. This picture is what we are most concerned about today. Read a description of that avalanche here. The possibility of finding a pocket like this is diminished compared to Friday when that avalanche happened. Despite the infrequent nature of this problem, it’s worth staying vigilant in case you come across something similar. Watch for stiffer snow in areas steeper than 38 degrees.
Secondary Concern – Loose snow sluffing and smaller wind slabs.
This is only a hazard to people in steep and high consequence terrain. We have found the sluffing to be generally manageable and predictable. Small wind slabs are somewhat less predictable than the sluffing, and the manageable nature depends completely on the terrain exposure below. Watch for these areas of stiff surface snow in the top 4-6 inches. You’ll know it when you feel it.
New surface hoar formed over the last 2 days all the way to some ridges. This is not a problem now, but could be when it gets buried by the next storm. Stay tuned for further developments…
A temperature inversion remains in place over most of the region. Skiers and riders yesterday who toughed out the cold at the parking lot and pushed up to sunny ridges were rewarded with comfortable calm conditions up high. Valley bottoms are still negative temps this morning, with positive single digits higher up. Wind is predicted to remain minor again today with mostly cloudy skies.
There is a chance of snow tonight, with increasing possibilities over the next couple days.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Wendy will issue the next advisory Monday 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.