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Archives
ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Tue, December 18th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Expires
Wed, December 19th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Join Wild Alpine and the Friends of the CNFAIC for the Girdwood Premier of TGR’s new film “The Dream Factory” – with scenes shot at Alyeska and the surrounding Chugach Mountains. This is a fundraiser for the CNFAIC and takes place at the Sitzmark Bar & Grill – Alyeska Resort. More details HERE.

BOTTOM LINE
A MODERATE danger exists above treeline for today.   Avalanche activity has quieted down in the backcountry.   Despite flurries and increased winds in the forecast, it does not look like this will affect the overall hazard significantly. The potential still remains for triggering avalanches in steep wind loaded terrain.   Below treeline the danger is LOW, where there is not enough of a slab to be of concern and avalanches are unlikely.

Tue, December 18th, 2012
Alpine
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

While it has been almost a week since new slabs have formed, we are still seeing isolated areas with slabs that are reactive to the weight of a person.  While avalanche activity has been on the decline, the potential remains for human triggered avalanches in steep upper elevation terrain.  Yesterday was the first day with no reported human triggered avalanches in the last week.  Several parties experienced collapsing in areas that had not previously seen traffic.  This is an obvious sign of unstable snow.  Snowpits from yesterday showed us that the potential remains for avalanches, if triggered, could propagate and entrain enough snow to injure or bury someone.  While it’s easy to get complacent with a lack of obvious avalanche activity, remember that there is very weak snow lurking below the surface. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.
More info at Avalanche.org

Look for winds to increase in the mountains today.  With a limited amount of snow available for transport coupled with a trace of new snow, the chance exists for the formation of small new wind slabs.  If you are observing wind blowing out of the east right in front of you, expect nearby west facing slopes to be receiving a new load of snow.

Weather
Tue, December 18th, 2012

The clear and cold weather of the last several days will be replaced by clouds, wind and warmer temps today.   A low pressure system moving south into the Gulf will skirt South Central Alaska.   Look for flurries starting midday with accumulations of up to an inch of snow.   Winds shifted overnight and are now blowing out of the east.   Look for ridgetop winds to pick up for part of the day today with gusts in the 30-40 mph range.   Temps will warm into the balmy teens today!

The longer term outlook shows a return to clear and dry conditions.


This is 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).  

Kevin will issue the next advisory Wednesday morning, December 19th.

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This is 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.