It’s been 16 days now since the climax of our March avalanche cycle where up to 5 feet of snow fell across the zone in a 5-day period. The weak layers underlying that slab have since adjusted to the load and we’ve experienced exceptional stability as of late throughout the core advisory area. That being said, there are still a few springtime concerns that garner attention.
A cornice failure is – by far – the most dangerous avalanche problem in the backcountry currently. Cornice falls are very hard to predict but we do know they are more likely to fail as the day heats up. During this extended high pressure, with warm daytime temps and light winds, large overhanging cornices will continue to ripen toward likely failure. As always, minimize your time spent underneath or near corniced ridges by giving them an extra wide berth when travelling below or ridge-walking.
Surface snow on non-solar aspects continues to facet and rot-out. This is making for great surface conditions on north aspects considering it hasn’t snowed in well over two-weeks. Sluffing may prove a concern in steep, high consequence terrain for knocking a skier or boarder off their feet. This is less of a concern if you’ve got a motor underneath you, as any snow moving will be low volume.
On steep solar aspects a skier or rider may be able to initiate a wet snow slide as these slopes heat up late in the day. Once again these will be low in volume but potentially dangerous in high consequence terrain such as above a terrain trap.
“Heads Up” conditions in steep terrain:
There are plenty of steep slopes with firm surfaces that require a healthy amount of careful and focused travel. A fall in steep terrain could result in loss of control of a snowmachine or be difficult for skiers or snowboarders to arrest. Pay attention to the snow surface and continually assess and re-assess as you travel through the mountains today.
Abundant sunshine and comfortable temperatures seem to be the norm for us here in south central AK this March. Let’s hope we are this lucky in June, July and August! Ridgetop winds kicked up slightly yesterday from the northwest though not quite enough to make snow transport a concern. At lower elevations along Turnagain Arm, local gap winds were observed with a peak gust of 50mph in Whittier. Temperatures were pleasant again reaching into the mid-30’s at 1,000′.
We have a similar day on tap today with temps topping out in the mid-30’s again and a northwest wind in the 0-10mph range. Persistent sunshine continues as the blocking high-pressure ridge over central Alaska endures, keeping the Aleutian low to our west at bay (see below). Look for the March weather summary in Wendy’s forecast tomorrow morning.
|05/06/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Pastoral Peak, north face||Andy Duenow|
|04/10/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Wolverine||Mike Records|
|04/10/20||Turnagain||Observation: Eddies lookers right shoulder||Matt Yoder|
|04/09/20||Turnagain||Observation: Bench Peak||Mike Records|
|04/04/20||Turnagain||Observation: Pete’s North||Anonymous|
|03/26/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan – Proper (SW facing)||CNFAIC Staff|
|03/26/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||W Wagner Forecaster|
|03/25/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst Uptrack @ 2000′||J. Boisvert|
|03/24/20||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain – Road Observations||W Wagner Forecaster|
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|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.