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Issued
Sun, January 29th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Expires
Mon, January 30th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

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).

BOTTOM LINE

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.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION

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…

MOUNTAIN WEATHER

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.

Sun, January 29th, 2012
Alpine
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
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This is 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.