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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Fri, February 22nd, 2013 - 7:00AM
Sat, February 23rd, 2013 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is MODERATE above treeline where loose snow avalanches are the main concern in steep terrain.   Below treeline the hazard is LOW, where avalanches are unlikely today.

Special Announcements

The Chugach National Forest is looking for your comments in the Forest Plan Revision Process.   Public meetings are being held this week and next in Seward, Soldotna, Anchorage, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass Cordova and Valdez.   Forest Managers and decision makers are anxious to hear input from the people who live, recreate and make a livlihood on the Chugach National Forest.   For more information and meeting dates click here.

Fri, February 22nd, 2013
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
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
  • Dry Loose
    Dry Loose
Dry Loose
Dry Loose avalanches are the release of dry unconsolidated snow and typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. These avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs.
More info at Avalanche.org

The storm that ended Wednesday left 6-8 inches of light density snow sitting on the surface.  This snow will sluff easily today, primarily on North and West aspects and especially in steeper terrain.  South and some East facing terrain received enough sun yesterday to melt the surface snow which has re frozen overnight where loose snow avalanches are less of a problem.  Natural point releases were observed on multiple aspects above treeline yesterday.  Expect more of the same today with sluffs being small to medium in volume.  Pay particular attention to these above terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies and trees.

Wind slabs
There is the possibility of finding isolated older pockets of shallow wind slab in the higher elevation starting zones.  Triggering one of these smaller slabs combined with sluffing will increase the volume of snow moving dowhill, making it harder to manage terrain appropriately.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

A distinct buried crust resides in many locations between ~1,500-3,000′ in elevation.  On top of this crust is weak snow in some areas.  On top of that weak snow is a slab up to 3 feet thick.  Yesterday my partners and I tested the snow at this interface and found it to be non reactive.  Other areas in the last week have shown this layer to be reactive and because of this it is still worth paying attention to.  Staying off of steep rollovers and thin spots, especially slopes getting direct sun will help in avoiding this problem today.

We also looked at some thin spots in the snowpack to assess the deep slab problem.  Weak snow still exists at the ground above 2,000′.  Our tests yesterday showed this weak snow to be non reactive, for now.

Fri, February 22nd, 2013

In the past 24 hours the mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm have picked up a trace of new snow.   Winds have been very light out of the North and Northwest and temperatures have been in the teens at ridgetops.   The sun made an appearance for several hours during the day yesterday and has created crusts on South aspects.

Today expect to see lingering snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon ahead of the next approaching disturbance.   Winds will blow 10-20 mph out of the Northwest and temperatures at 1,000′ will be in the mid twenties.

Light snowfall should resume late tonight as a series of weak disturbances continue to move through the area over the next several days.


Kevin will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, February 23rd.

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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.