|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.
The snowpack continued to degrade yesterday under a tenth consecutive day of unseasonably warm temperatures. Wet slab and wet loose avalanches remain the primary concern as temperatures stay well above freezing again today.
We have continued to see large natural avalanches in the Turnagain and Girdwood regions nearly everyday since the warm up began. Yesterday was no exception as terrain on Pete’s South proved susceptible to the rain and warm temps. The mercury continued to climb overnight and we are seeing our highest temperatures in well over 3 months this morning.
Temperatures @ 5AM in degrees Fahrenheit
Penguin Peak (4200’): 41
Sunburst (3880’): 45
Alyeska top of Quad (2800’): 50
Seattle Ridge (2400’): 47
Center Ridge (1880’): 52
Cold temperatures (well below 32F) and time are the only two factors that will bring us out of this period of elevated danger. With unseasonably warm air and moderate amounts of rain again today, the snowpack will continue to lose strength and whither away from the valley floor moving up in elevation. Travel in avalanche terrain again today is not recommended.
Yesterday I saw people kayaking Six-mile Creek, road biking, ROCK-climbing and kite surfing along the Seward Highway. Until winter returns to south-central Alaska, activities such as these are going to be the better (and probably more fun) alternative to recreating in the backcountry this June-uary.
In the upper elevations of our zone where precipitation has been falling primarily as snow, we have a deep slab (6’+) resting on what we know is a weak foundation. Evidence of this deep slab problem presented itself on Saturday in the Girdwood Valley as pictured below. Any avalanches initiated in upper elevations today will likely be triggered either by wind or a falling cornice.
Natural deep slab avalanche on Goat Mt. SE to SW facing with ~6,000′ starting zone. Saturday Jan. 25th.
Winds have been moderate to strong over the last 2 weeks, primarily out of the east and southeast creating some large and unruly cornices on upper elevation west aspects. Cornices are quite unpredictable and have a tendency to release during warming events.
Scattered rain showers returned to our region yesterday with temperatures cooling slightly from Saturday night/ Sunday morning. The slight cooling was followed by rapid warming that began yesterday afternoon and continued into this morning (see Sunburst graph above) where all ridgetop stations are reporting temperatures greater than 40 degrees. Winds have continued to blow predominantly from the east in the 30-50mph range.
With the passage of this current warm front today we can expect temperatures to drop slightly throughout the day to the mid to low 40’s at 1000′. This slight cooling will not be nearly enough to shore up our snowpack, though it may drop our snowline down to around 2500′. Precip amounts will be light today with our first chance of SNOW coming later tonight in the 1-3″ range above 1000′. Ridgetop winds will continue in the 50-60mph range from the east.
|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
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Moderow / Clayton