Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, February 1st 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).
Avalanche danger is rising towards HIGH. Dangerous conditions can be found in the backcountry. Expert level travel skills are essential today to stay in safe zones. Wind up to 120mph and heavy snowfall are quickly increasing the danger in most of our forecast zone.
Somebody must have pushed the reset button… We are just starting to see the effects of a major storm this morning that will build in intensity through the day. Heavy snow and high wind is expected for most of today and tomorrow. The avalanche danger will rise in relation to the amount of new snow and wind.
We know for sure that avalanche danger will increase with storm snow and wind slabs. We don’t have a great idea how easily it will bond to the old snow surface. This is one of the questions we will be trying to answer over the next few days. The new/old snow interface will be the layer of primary concern until we have better information. The good news is we don’t have any truly concerning deeper weak layers. There are some anomalies in specific areas including the buried surface hoar and near surface facets from mid January that formed before the last big storm. The most important information today is that we are getting lots of new snow and overall stability will be poor due to rapid loading.
I expect blowing snow and poor visibility will be enough to signal that traveling above treeline could be dangerous. As the new snow builds, traveling underneath larger avalanche paths will also become dangerous. Lower elevation areas including steep rollovers and wind loaded pockets may become deep enough to have avalanche issues as well. Choosing safe areas will require a high level of skill and experience today.
A large storm system is just starting to enter our region this morning. This storm will bring heavy snow and high wind to Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, and Turnagain Arm. A blizzard warning is in effect from 9am to 6pm today. Snowfall predictions range from 8-24 inches, with East wind up to 89mph at ridgetops. Temperatures should stay just below freezing today, and perhaps warm up a little more tomorrow.
Satellite image from 6am on Feb 1st.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
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.