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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Fri, January 3rd, 2014 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, January 4th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is MODERATE above treeline today.   Steep slopes on a variety of aspects above treeline should be treated with caution.   Large triggers such as snowmachines or groups of riders will increase the chances of triggering slabs up to 2 feet in depth.   Below treeline (especially below 1,800′) the avalanche hazard is LOW, where the snowpack is capped by a thick crust.

Fri, January 3rd, 2014
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

The snowpack around Turnagain Pass is not typical for this time of year.  November and December were dry months with close to record lows in terms of snowfall.  Clear and cold conditions helped to weaken the snow that was sitting on the ground.  This is what comprises the foundation of the snowpack.  

The New Year brought the first significant storm of the season.  This storm started warm & wet and finished cool & dry.  This is what we call a “right side up” storm.  This newest snow has since bonded well to the old snow surface.  

Despite this, we still have that weak snow lurking deeper in the snowpack. It will be possible to get onto slopes without seeing the normal warning signs of shooting cracks or experiencing collapsing.  This is a tricky set up that requires conservative travel practices and digging/testing the snow below the surface.

It will be generally difficult to initiate an avalanche today.  However, the possibility still exists for humans to trigger an avalanche in deeper layers, especially in steep terrain.

(Photo below taken in the afternoon on January 2nd.  These avalanches occured during the day and were triggered remotely by 2 skiers.  Click HERE for more info)

Tincan av 1-2-14.  

Weather
Fri, January 3rd, 2014

In the past 24 hours the mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm have received zero precip.   Winds have been calm and temperatures have been in the low 20s F.

Today expect cloudy skies and snow showers mainly in the morning.   Snow accumulations will be light, in the 1-2 € range.   Winds will also be light out of the South at 5-10mph.

A well orgainzed Low pressure system to the South will bring warm and wet conditions to the area over the weekend.   Heaviest precip amounts look to be arriving Saturday evening into Sunday morning.

Observations
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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.