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Tue, April 2nd, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wed, April 3rd, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

We are starting out today with a LOW avalanche danger that will increase to MODERATE by the afternoon as the daytime sun warms the snow surface. Wet point release avalanches as well as wet slabs will have the potential to be triggered either naturally or by a person. Additionally, if you are heading to the steep upper elevation northerly slopes you could find a lingering wind slab.

Special Announcements

A few announcements this morning.

First and foremost:   We would like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to the many of you who donated through Pick Click Give!! We cannot stress enough how essential your support is for the sustainability of the Avalanche Center. Also, for those joining us at the Corn Harvest on Sunday, thanks for making it a successful and fun afternoon!

Second:   The hotline is currently down due to phone issues with the hosting line. This will hopefully be fixed in the next day or two.

And, on a business note:   The Skookum drainage is now closed to motorized travel for the remainder of the season.

Tue, April 2nd, 2013
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.
More info at Avalanche.org

Springtime sun and warm temperatures are ushering in April. We are in a melt freeze regime on all aspects below treeline and south, east and west aspects above treeline. Temperatures are showing a fairly decent refreeze overnight that should become softened by today’s sunshine. This can be seen on BeadedStream’s temperature profile at Center Ridge,1880ft. It takes a minute to digest the information but check it out – it’s really cool!

Avalanche activity yesterday was minimal but one notable slide did take place on Max’s Mountain in Girdwood (photo below). This slid sometime Monday and looks to be an old wind slab from Friday’s snow/wind. It is believed to be a natural triggered by yesterday’s sun and warm temperatures. It is that time of year where the snowpack is beginning its transition to summer and the sun and warm temperatures become a large player in destabilizing the pack. As is often stated: Once the snow becomes so soft that it doesn’t support your skis or sled it is high time to head for a shadier/cooler aspect.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Cornice
Cornice Fall is the release of an overhanging mass of snow that forms as the wind moves snow over a sharp terrain feature, such as a ridge, and deposits snow on the downwind (leeward) side. Cornices range in size from small wind drifts of soft snow to large overhangs of hard snow that are 30 feet (10 meters) or taller. They can break off the terrain suddenly and pull back onto the ridge top and catch people by surprise even on the flat ground above the slope. Even small cornices can have enough mass to be destructive and deadly. Cornice Fall can entrain loose surface snow or trigger slab avalanches.
More info at Avalanche.org

Cornices have been peeling off slowly the past few days and this trend is likely to continue with the warm weather. They have been triggering slabs from Friday’s snow over the weekend and as the pack fluctuates between freeze/thaw what is triggered by a cornice should fluctuate as well. Nonetheless, steering clear of these from both above and below is wise.

Additional concerns:
Wind Slab – Lingering wind slabs are suspect for those that are heading to steep north upper elevation slopes. One party found and triggered one of these on Sunday and sent in a great report.

Tue, April 2nd, 2013

Yesterday was our 3rd warm and partly sunny day since Friday when 8-12″ of snow fell over the region. During the past 24 hours winds have been light out of the northwest (~5mph gusting 15mph). Temperatures peaked yesterday in the mid 20’s F on the ridgelines and the upper 30’s at 1,000ft. Overnight temperatures have fallen, with what looks to be mostly clear skies, to the upper teens on the ridges and low 20’s at 1,000ft.

Today we can expect mostly sunny skies with a few clouds streaming in later in the day. We  might hit the 40deg F mark at 2,000′ and the 32deg mark on the ridgelines. Winds are shifting around to the SE but look to remain light with gusts to 15mph.

There is a ridge of high pressure over interior Alaska that will stay in place through the week. This will keep mostly clear skies and light winds over our area.

Kevin will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, April 3rd.

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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.