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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Wed, March 26th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, March 27th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains LOW this morning on all aspects and elevations.   Warming temperatures and direct solar input on large cornices and southerly slopes may increase the danger to MODERATE where wet point release avalanches and cornice failure may initiate late in the day.    

Low danger does not mean no danger! Good travel habits remain important.   These include exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves or a cornice fails.

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Wed, March 26th, 2014
Alpine
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

High pressure and mild temperatures continue to dominate much of our State.  This ‘lack of weather’ over the last week and a half has contributed to a stabilizing trend in the snowpack that has been afforded ample time to adjust to our most recent winter storm (March 10-14th).

Specific hazards one may experience when travelling into the backcountry today include threatening cornices, wet loose avalanches late in the day, shallow wind slabs or an unlikely but very dangerous persistent slab.  Furthermore, surface conditions are quite variable throughout the backcountry right now.  Read here and here for a couple different accounts of a heinous fall (but positive outcome) a snowboarder took on Sunday in the Chugach range.

Cornices: 

Perhaps the most unpredictable problem today, we’ve seen evidence in the last week of natural cornice failure that have subsequently triggered slab avalanches.  This is the type of large trigger likely needed to wake up a persistent slab that could result in a large and destructive avalanche.  Your best mitigation tactic for cornices is to recognize them and limit exposure on top of or underneath these bulbous snow formations, particularly late in the day when solar input is greatest.

Wet loose avalanches: 

We saw evidence yesterday on the sunny side of Turnagain Pass where wet-loose avalanches or point-releases initiated and ran several hundred feet.  Though not a huge problem on their own, this is the type of small slide that can get you into big trouble if above a terrain trap or in complex, “no-fall” terrain.  It’ll be best to avoid steep, southerly aspects late in the day once you begin to notice the snow surface will no longer support your weight off your skis or sled.

Wind slab and persistent slabs:

Older wind slabs from last week may still be lurking in untested terrain today.  With people pushing further out into the periphery and skiing bigger, more committing lines over the last week the possibility of triggering an older, stiff wind slab exists. 

A note on persistent slabs:  The nature of this avalanche problem is persistent.  Though unlikely to trigger today, we know that weak snow layers do exist 2-5’ deep and a resulting persistent slab avalanche would likely be un-survivable.  To mitigate this problem, follow safe backcountry travel protocol that includes wearing and knowing how to use rescue gear and exposing only one person at a time on a given slope.  

Weather
Wed, March 26th, 2014

Clear blue skies, light wind and warming temperatures yet again dominated our environment if you were so lucky to venture outside yesterday.   Ridgetop winds were light out of the east and temperatures averaged in the mid-20’s at these upper elevations.   At sea level locations and in valley bottoms cold air-pooled to create a decent temperature inversion yesterday morning.

Today looks to be a similar set-up as yesterday with the rising sun breaking up that inverted layer (8 deg at Granite campground this morning and 24 deg at Sunburst weather station) by mid-day and temperatures steadily climbing into the low 40’s at 1,000′.   Winds have shifted slightly to a westerly direction but look to be light and variable all day.

It looks like this stubborn blocking high pressure is here to stay well into next week as clear skies will continue to support warmer than normal high temperatures and below normal lows overnight.

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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.