|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.
High ridge top winds, in the 40 mph range have been blowing out of the East since yesterday morning. While the amount of snow available for transport has been minimal (in the 2-4” range) slabs have been forming and rapidly loading leeward slopes. Due to the rapid nature of this loading, natural avalanches are possible today. When winds are at these speeds, slabs tend to form lower down on slopes and in a more scattered pattern. Because of this it becomes possible to travel through starting zones without being on a wind slab only to find yourself on top of unstable snow part way down.
Fortunately the weather today will make getting into starting zones very difficult, as poor visibility will make travel challenging in the alpine. Despite this, should you find yourself in upper elevation terrain be on the lookout for signs of wind loaded snow. Shooting cracks will be the first indicator that the snow below your feet is unstable. Snow that has an upside down feel to it, is stiff and is on the leeward side of slopes or along cross loaded gullies should be avoided today.
Expert level terrain assessment skills will be necessary for travel in the mountains today, as avalanches have the potential to release naturally and run through multiple elevation bands.
In the back of our mind today are persistent slabs. Weak snow 2 feet below the surface is present in the snowpack. From Turnagain Pass down to Summit Lake that layer is widespread buried surface hoar. In the Girdwood Valley that layer is in the form of facets and exists in pockets. Several skier triggered avalanches have occurred over the past 2 weeks on these layers and are worth keeping in mind when out in the mountains today.
The buried surface hoar on Turnagain has quieted down for the time being. Skiers in the Girdwood Valley triggered an avalanche on Saturday on a steep upper elevation slope with a thin snowpack. Avalanches occurring in the new snow have the potential to step down to these deeper layers. Because of this it will be possible for avalanches to increase in volume; avalanches occuring within the new snow could pull out deeper slabs and be large enough to injure and bury a person.
Yesterday ushered in winds in the 40 mph range out of the East. Temperatures have been creeping up into the low 30s at 1,000′. Rain at sea level began overnight. Snow has been falling above 1,500′ with the Center Ridge SNOTEL showing 3 € of accumulation in the past 24 hours.
Today expect a continuation of this pattern – warm, wet, and windy. Temperatures will remain in the low 30s at 1,000′, ridge top winds will be out of the East at 40 mph, and 2-6 € of snow will fall in the higher elevations. The rain snow line should hover around the 1,000-1,500′ elevation through the day.
The plume of moisture moving over us will continue to pull warm air from the South. We should expect to see continued snow and rain, high winds and mild temperatures through Tuesday.
Alaska DOT has the Turnagain Pass Weather station back up and running. This is a great resource for checking weather info and webcams at road level (1,000′).
|Temp Avg (F)
|Snow Depth (in)
|Center Ridge (1880′)
|Summit Lake (1400′)
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)
|Temp Avg (F)
|Wind Avg (mph)
|Wind Gust (mph)
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)
|Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
|Troy Tempel, Thomas Lees, .Josh Bollaert, Damian Naquin
|Observation: Lynx creek
|Observation: Tincan Trees
|Moderow / Clayton
|Observation: Turnagain (below the uptrack)
|Alaska Avalanche School Moto Level 2
|John Sykes Forecaster
|Observation: Tincan Backdoor, Center Ridge
|AAS Level 1 / R Sullivan
|Avalanche: Tincan Trees
|Schauer/ Moderow/ Stephenson Forecaster
|Schauer/ Moderow/ Clayton Forecaster