|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.
By early afternoon yesterday we could get small soft slabs to pop easily with the influence of a skier just above treeline elevation. If we had ventured higher we would have found larger triggerable pockets with enough mass to cause injuries or burial by the end of the day. A couple of natural avalanches were observed farther south on the Kenai peninsula despite generally poor visibility. The main concern today is these same wind loaded pockets which may still be triggerable by a person. The snowfall stopped around 1000pm last night and wind has diminished significantly, allowing some time for yesterday’s new snow to bond and gain strength.
Today there will be plenty of safe places to enjoy in the backcountry. Below treeline and areas with moderate slope angles below 35 degrees are a good bet for safe travel. Travel above 2500 feet will require careful consideration of wind loading patterns and possibly avoidance of wind loaded areas. At Turnagain Pass the primary wind direction was from the east, but other weather stations showed different patterns. Determining which slopes have wind loaded pockets will require eyes on the ground.
With some areas receiving more than an inch of new water to the snowpack in the last 48 hours, I’m going to bring back the deep slab discussion. We have not seen a deep slab avalanche in several weeks, however it remains a low probability high consequence concern. The problem seems to have gone dormant but a couple factors could bring it back to life.
1. New snow adding stress to the snowpack will make it more likely to trigger the deep weak layers until the snowpack has adjusted to that new stress.
This problem is still in the back of my mind and is still having a subtle influence on my travel decisions in the backcountry. Despite a period of good behavior, the deep slab is still guilty until proven innocent.
Snowfall and wind totals from yesterday
Alyeska top – 10-12 inches gusts to 63mph
Turnagain Pass – 6-8 inches gusts to 78mph
Summit Lake – 4-6 inches gusts to 33mph
Snowfall from Wednesday and Thursday was low density powder, making for good skiing. You can still feel the hard crust at low elevations underneath the new snow, but snow quality has improved.
Today looks like a break of calm and partly sunny weather before another storm on Saturday. Isolated snow showers are possible today. Temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s, and little to no snow is forecasted until tonight.
For the weekend a high wind watch is in effect starting Saturday morning. More snowfall is also expected.
Fitz will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, February 9th.
|Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
|Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
|AAS L1 Turnagain
|Avalanche: Lynx Creek
|Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
|Silverton Mountain Guides
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Dalpes/Thamm/ Schauer Forecaster
|Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
|Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
|Troy Tempel, Thomas Lees, .Josh Bollaert, Damian Naquin
|Observation: Lynx creek