Strong and gusty winds created very sensitive wind slabs during the day yesterday (see video & observation HERE). An ample amount of light density snow was moved easily by these winds and formed slabs 2-3 feet thick. We received one report of a snowmachine triggered avalanche in one of these wind loaded areas yesterday. details HERE. Natural and human triggered avalanche activity was observed and reported by multiple parties over the weekend.
Snowmachine triggered avalanche in a wind loaded starting zone in Triangle Bowl. No one was injured or buried. (Photo: Kolin Smith)
Today expect the sensitivity of these slabs to be on the decline. It will still be possible to trigger slabs in many areas, as the winds affected slopes above and below treeline yesterday. It’s important to learn how to recognize wind slabs. Gullies that have been cross loaded, cornices and wind lips at the top of slopes, and any snow that has a smooth, rounded or pillowy look to it are worth avoiding today.
Weak faceted snow that is sitting between the late January crust and the snow that has fallen in February continues to hold the potential for deeper slabs to release. This layer has been slowly gaining strength but still warrants your attention. Combine this problem in areas where newly formed wind slabs are up to 3 feet on their own and the consequences (volume and depth of debris) are potentially unsurvivable.
Choosing lower angled terrain, <35 degrees, is the simplest way to avoid triggering slabs up to 3’ in depth. Avoiding spots where slab depth quickly changes from thin to thick (i.e. starting zones, cross loaded gullies) will also help in avoiding trouble today.
The most significant weather factor contributing to instability over the last 24 hours was wind. Wind data from ridgetop stations were the following:
Sunburst– 13 avg – 55 gust out of the East
Seattle– 22 avg – 53 gust out of the South
Fresno– 18 avg – 40 gust out of the North
Temperatures over the last 24 hours averaged 17 degrees F at the Sunburst weather station. It has been 6 days since the last precipitation has fallen.
Today expect sunny skies. Winds speeds will remain elevated, averaging in the 20-30mph range out of the Southeast. Temperatures at 1,000′ will be in the high 20s to low 30s F
A ridge of high pressure over most of Alaska is preventing moisture from reaching our area. There is a slight chance for some light precipitation tomorrow, but much of that depends on the ability of that high pressure ridge to prevent low pressure from the south and west to move over us. The rest of the week looks to be dry and clear with slightly warming temperatures as high pressure will continue to dominate.
|01/18/21||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs.||A Schauer|
|01/16/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/15/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Schauer/ Wunnicke Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Johnston-Bloom / Moderow Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Rec Level 1 Roberts|
|01/12/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge/Center Ridge||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/11/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Trees||Schauer/ Roberts Forecaster|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Pro 1 Course Latosuo|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan trees||Anonymous|
|01/09/21||Turnagain||Observation: Johnson Pass||Anonymous|
Status of riding areas across the Chugach NF is managed by the Glacier and Seward Ranger Districts, not avalanche center staff. Riding area information is posted as a public service to our users and updated based on snow depth and snow density to prevent resource damage at trailhead locations. Riding area questions contact: email@example.com
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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.