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Wed, December 4th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Thu, December 5th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains LOW in our region as we have seen no significant, contributing weather since November 26th/ 27th.   High elevation steep terrain could still be harboring shallow wind slabs but people don’t appear to be traveling in these areas due to more obvious hazards associated with our shallow, early season snowpack.

Special Announcements

Thanks to everyone who came out last night for our second Fireside Chat of the season!   Next up, Fitz will present on €œHuman Factors in the Backcountry € Tuesday December 10th at the Glacier Ranger Station in Girdwood.   More details can be found on the calendar above.

Wed, December 4th, 2013
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Yesterday was another somewhat un-inspiring day in the backcountry in terms of avalanche activity.  To date our snowpack above 2000’ is shallow and made up of very weak snow that lacks any sort of cohesive slab.  Without that slab component, we simply are not seeing avalanches in our area.  At lower elevations, stout crusts that were so prevalent and annoying a week ago are decomposing, lending to improved surface conditions.

Though the skiing leaves much to be desired, it is worth a jaunt into our backcountry facet-farm simply to get eyes on what will be the foundation of our 2013/14 seasonal snowpack.  There are some fun turns to be had in this recycled powder snow, just be mindful of what the ski industry refers to as “early season hazards”. 

The faceting process looks to continue in the near future as temperature gradients in our shallow snowpack are well within the limits to promote facet growth.

Average snowpack depths:
Above treeline, 15-30″
Below treeline, 12-15″

Wed, December 4th, 2013

The temperature inversion remained in place yesterday, though wasn’t quite as extreme as we saw at the beginning of the week.   Ridge top temperatures did stay below freezing and continued a slow slide down toward what we would consider more normal December temperatures yesterday.   Winds were light and variable as a high deck of clouds moved into our area from the south mid-day.

We can expect increased clouds in our region today though winds will remain light and variable.   Temperatures look to be moderating throughout the day, as colder low elevation air will continue to be scoured out and replaced by a slightly warmer air mass.  

Models show a slight chance of mixed precipitation tonight and into tomorrow for the Anchorage area, but given the general flow pattern and forecasted amounts its unlikely that the eastern Turnagain arm region will see much more than a few flakes.    

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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.