Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, February 8th 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).
More snow and rain equals a rising avalanche trend. The danger rating will rise from Moderate this morning to CONSIDERABLE late in the day. This new snow will be falling on top of variable melt freeze crusts, stiff windboard, and surface hoar. All of these offer poor bonding possibilities for the new snow forecasted to arrive today.
Our roller coaster ride of the last week continues with anCNFAIC Staff swing towards dangerous avalanche conditions. Yesterday we found generally stable conditions with colder temperatures “locking in” the previously melted surface snow down low. At higher elevations we found stiff wind blown snow that had lost its reactivity from Monday.
Watch the snow and rain today. The avalanche danger will correspond directly with the precipitation. As of yesterday we had lost the wind transportable surface snow, so wind by itself is not a concern. New snow and wind, blowing fresh slabs onto a slick surface is the primary concern.
The surface conditions yesterday left a lot to be desired. Down low, where warm temperatures and rain melted the surface, it refroze into a crust that extends above 2000 feet in some areas. Above the crust you will find a variable mix of slightly soft windblown snow or hard windblown sastrugi. On top of this you may find SURFACE HOAR ranging from 2-10mm in size.
The older and deeper layers are probably dormant for the time being, but medium to large avalanches were occurring as recently as 2 days ago. I’m still not completely confident that this problem is gone for good. It will be unlikely to trigger these deeper layers, but perhaps not impossible. The bad news is that if you do find a deeper weakness, it could cause a larger and much more dangerous avalanche.
Snow, warm temperatures, and high wind. A low pressure complex in the southern Gulf of Alaska will be affecting us today. Up to 12 inches of snow is possible today and anCNFAIC Staff 12 inches tonight, with a freezing level of 500 feet and wind up to the mid 70s at ridgetops. We’re getting all the major weather components to create avalanches.
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.