Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, February 4th 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).
Seward Highway DOT has been working diligently to keep the road open during this storm. Parking at Turnagain Pass may be difficult to accommodate everyone today. Be patient with the plowing efforts and do not block the road crews.
Avalanche danger remains at CONSIDERABLE for much of the region. 4-5 FEET of new snow has fallen in the last 3 days. Human triggered avalanches are likely on steep and/or wind loaded slopes. Natural avalanches are possible. This snow needs more time to settle and stabilize.
WOW! What a storm!!! Yesterday goes in the record books for one of the deepest and lightest days we can remember. The storm yesterday brought a surprise cold shot of snow that was building up to 5 inches an hour at its peak intensity. When it’s snowing that hard, the corresponding avalanche danger is spiking as well. There is a lot to be worried about today…
To recap the last several days –
Warming and high volume snow on Wed/Thursday brought 22 inches to Turnagain Pass with rain at low elevations
Thursday morning a Natural avalanche closed the Seward Highway at mile 37.
Many medium to large natural and explosive triggered avalanches were brought down by avalanche workers on Thursday.
Friday morning had over 2 feet of very rapid loading in some areas. Friday night the wind picked up to 50mph at some weather stations.
Nobody has any business pushing their luck today. I know we say it a lot, but conservative decision making could be the difference that keeps you alive today. The snow is so deep that Non Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death is a real possibility. We even saw a snowmachine stuck in the deep snow in the parking lot yesterday.
Avalanche concerns are all about lots of snow and not enough time for that snow to settle and stabilize. The one big anomaly is a report from the Placer River valley of a very large propagation low elevation avalanche. This could be an awakening of older buried surface hoar from a couple weeks ago. Today is a day to play on lower angle slopes or in the flats. If buried surface hoar is a problem, you could trigger the slope above from a long distance away.
It looks like a reprieve from the snowfall today, with mostly cloudy skies and a drop in temperatures. Wind last night picked up to 51mph on Max’s and 40mph on Sunburst from the East. Wind is probably the biggest concern for avalanche weather today. Ridgetops could see gusts to the high 30s today, which is plenty to blow the dry surface snow into cohesive slabs.
More snow is in the forecast for Sunday and into next week.
CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast
Wendy will issue the next advisory Sunday 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.