Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, March 10th 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).
Mild weather is keeping our avalanche danger at LOW again today. Nonetheless, a variety of different snow stability issues can still be found. Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain are possible today.
The backcountry today will have a generally stable character. It’s a great time to go exploring far and wide, but remember – when you get far from our forecast zone and into complex and steeper terrain, more of the burden of avalanche forecasting gets put on you to identify specific problems. Avalanche problems can be found today, but they should be small in size and relatively hard to find.
Concern #1 – Loose snow
Sluffing in steep terrain continues to be easy to find. This problem is directly related to 2 variables – how much loose snow is available, and how steep the angle is. Loose snow is more likely to be found on shaded and wind sheltered aspects. The problem angles are generally pretty steep – greater than 40 degrees. Sluff management techniques may be necessary to prevent being overrun and taken for a ride.
Concern #2 – Wind Slab
Isolated pockets of shallow wind slab can be found at higher elevations off ridges. This is a focused problem, specific to the areas that have gotten wind in the last few days. On Thursday we found a stiffer wind slab on top of looser dry snow that had a tendency to break off in plates. We have not found wider connectivity with these slabs, but they can be a problem if found unexpectedly in high consequence terrain.
The wet loose avalanche problem is unlikely to be significant today. We’ll need to get back to sunnier and warmer weather before the oozing sun sluffs start to move again. Be prepared to find crusts on lower elevation South aspects that will make skiing difficult.
CNFAIC Staff random unpredictable problems can be found in the backcountry right now. We got a report of a full depth glide avalanche just 3 days ago. Also, cornices are quite large and overhanging in some areas, and can easily fail under the weight of a person.
Surface hoar is starting to form in some areas. For the most part, the bigger frost feathers were found in low angle and low elevation areas. Nonetheless, tracking this issue over the next days of clear weather will be necessary before the next snowfall buries this future weak layer. Any observations on surface hoar location and size will be appreciated.
Our last shot of snow came on Monday, so we’ve had 4 solid days of no significant weather. Warmer temperatures and strong sunny weather have affected South aspects with a sun crust at lower elevations.
For today, a trace of snow is expected under Mostly Cloudy skies. Wind is expected to be light except near Whittier and Seward. Our mild weather pattern should to continue through the week, with only light snowfall potential.
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.