Good morning. This is Graham Predeger with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Tuesday, January 31st 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).
Backcountry travelers will find generally safe avalanche conditions within the advisory area today. There is however pockets of MODERATE danger near ridges and CNFAIC Staff wind affected areas where shallow wind slabs may lurk. CNFAIC Staffwise, the danger is LOW for the core advisory area.
The better than average skiing and sledding conditions continued yesterday in the Turnagain Pass area thanks to the abundance of snow and cold temperatures over the last 10 days. Surface conditions are smooth and consistent from ridge top to valley bottom. Settlement cones observed yesterday below tree line are well developed and provide visual evidence of the slow deformation and densification of our upper snowpack. This is a sign that this upper layer (the latest storm) of our snowpack is gaining strength.
Our observations yesterday on Sunburst yielded no signs of the recent surface hoar from this weekend. This is good news for this specific area, but this particular observation may not be representative of the entire forecast area. With light snow falling yesterday and last night, it is possible that any lingering surface hoar was covered up intact. We’ll be further investigating this today and appreciate any CNFAIC Staff observations from people out skiing or sled-necking today.
Pockets of moderate danger do still exist for soft, shallow wind slabs. The most likely spot to find these will be near or just below ridges and any cross-loaded slopes such as steep gullies or spines. One can identify these wind slabs by feel. Surface conditions will change from loose, unconsolidated snow to a stronger dense surface layer (wind slab) over a matter of feet.
Our sluffing problem is showing signs of slowing down yesterday as warmer temperatures set in. Loose snow avalanches are still a concern though and can pose a problem for those traveling through steep, extreme terrain. As always, practice safe travel protocol riding slopes one at a time, utilize escape routes/ safe zones and you’re bound to have a great day in the backcountry today!
Yesterday ushered in light snowfall and the beginning of a significant warming trend that looks to persist through the week. Today appears to be a relatively quiet day as far as weather is concerned. We can expect temperatures to be in the high teens to low 20’s and wind speeds at ridge tops to max out in the 15-20 mph range. A weak surface low dominates the advisory area, keeping us under mostly cloudy skies where we may be able to eek out a trace of snow today.
Things appear to be picking up late tonight and into tomorrow with a large, intense storm developing in the central north Pacific Ocean. A Blizzard watch has been issued for Portage Valley and eastern Turnagain Arm on Wednesday. 5-10” of snow is expected along with strong easterly winds peaking tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures will continue to climb as this storm progresses and we may see above freezing temperatures at lower elevations on Thursday.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Kevin will issue the next advisory Wednesday 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.