Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, February 3rd at 10am. 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).
Seward Highway DOT will be doing more avalanche reduction work today. Expect intermittent road closures between Summit lake and Seward. Check the 511 hotline or http://511.alaska.gov/ for the latest information. As of yesterday evening there were no parking areas plowed in Turnagain Pass. Be patient with the plowing efforts and do not block the road crews.
Avalanche danger is at CONSIDERABLE this morning for much of the region. The current storm system is producing heavy snowfall in Girdwood and Turnagain Arm. Pockets of HIGH danger are building again. Human triggered avalanches are likely on steep and/or wind loaded slopes. Natural avalanches are possible. Expert level avalanche avoidance skills are important for anyone traveling in the backcountry today. Many areas of the backcountry should be avoided completely today.
A late morning update in the weather forecast has greater snowfall amounts accumulating in the region. All this snow is adding significant weight to an already overloaded pack. Conditions are changing fast, and avalanche danger is back on an increasing trend.
The majority of the snowfall from this storm is still recent enough to justify a Considerable danger rating. The peak storm intensity, with wind up to 120+ at ridgetops and most of the 2+ feet of snowfall occurred on Wednesday. Yesterday added anCNFAIC Staff 4-8 inches in some areas, and a foot or more could fall today. This is a lot of extra weight on the snowpack in a short period of time. Steep slopes are ripe for a human trigger today, and natural avalanches are still possible.
Avalanche workers were finding a reactive snowpack at mid and high elevations yesterday. We found easy to moderate and clean shears within the storm snow in several different layers. One large natural avalanche crossed the Seward Highway at mile 37 yesterday morning, shutting down the road just North of the Sterling Y.
It is currently snowing hard in Girdwood and Turnagain Arm. Wind remains light at the ridgetops, but snow accumulation at all elevations is quickly becoming significant.
The last 2 days has brought an intense storm to the region. On Wednesday 2-3 feet of snow fell above 1000 feet in Girdwood, Turnagain Pass, and parts of the Kenai. Summit Lake got 14 inches of slightly drier snow. Thursday had intermittent snowfall with anCNFAIC Staff 4-8 inches in some areas. This storm came in a little warmer, so sea level elevations got rain that transitioned to snow a few hundred feet up.
The majority of the major storm has passed our region, but anCNFAIC Staff wave is entering Prince William Sound this morning. 8-14 inches of additional snow is possible today, with moderate wind and slightly lower temperatures in the mid 20s.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
I will issue the next advisory Saturday 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.