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Sun, November 29th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Mon, November 30th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  MODERATE  in the Alpine elevations today. The recent series of storms has added 1-3′ of snow and the sustained winds have loaded leeward slopes.  Pockets of wind slab may be sensitive to human triggers in upper elevation  starting zones today.  Ease into steeper terrain, practice safe travel techniques and look for signs of instability,

The danger is MODERATE  in the Treeline elevation band. The rain and warm temperatures have left the snowpack moist and unsupportable at mid-elevations. There is the possibility of triggering a wet loose avalanche in steep terrain where the snowpack remains saturated. If the temperatures dip below freezing and a supportable surface crust exists the hazard will be LOW.

Below Treeline (1,000′) there is not enough snow coverage to warrant a danger rating.

Special Announcements

Outside of advisory area AVALANCHE CONDITIONS update:

Due to avalanche danger and on going search and rescue efforts the East Hatcher Pass Management Area is closed to public use until further notice. For current information visit  DNR Newsroom  and  hatcherpassavalanchecenter.org

The search for a missing skier in Hatcher pass continues today. Click  HERE  for latest media release from the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center.  Click HERE for yesterday’s article in Alaska Dispatch News. Our thoughts are with the friends and family.

We have received a few observations for the Anchorage Front Range in the last two days, including an avalanche that ran over a popular hiking trail.  Click here for the recent observations.

Sun, November 29th, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.
More info at Avalanche.org

The combination of wind and new snow in the Alpine over the past few days has created potential for wind slabs on steep leeward slopes. Slabs could be 1-4′ thick. Look for recent evidence of loading in the terrain. Cornice formation and scalloped or pillowed snow are good indications of deposition. Watch for cracking and collapsing under the weight of your skis or snowboard. Listen for hollow sounds and whumpfing.

** We are still concerned with a layer of weak faceted snow that formed during the colder temps in early November. These facets exist in many areas at the base of the snowpack but we have not seen evidence that they are reactive. We have limited information about the overall distribution of this layer in the Alpine and continue to be suspect of it lurking below the recent storms. 

Photo below is an image of the cross loading on the SE face of Seattle Ridge.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.
More info at Avalanche.org

The snowpack received rain up to 2500′ in the last series of storms. Temperatures in the Alpine cooled off and created a rain crust. At Treeline and below in areas that have not frozen there remains the possibility for wet avalanches in steep terrain. Observers reported “mashed potato” snow conditions and boot penetration to the ground. Additional rain showers and temperatures above freezing at lower elevations today will continue to create a hazard where the snow remains saturated. If the temperatures drop the danger will be LOW. Watch for new roller balls, wet punchy “trap door” snow and “push-a-lanches” starting at your skis or snowboard.

Yesterday observers reported rain runnels and roller balls up to 2500′.

Photo: Runnels on the Tincan uptrack. Credit: Ted Grosgebauer


Sun, November 29th, 2015

Rain and snow showers will continue in the region today. Some areas will see clearing skies. This system will dissipate as a ridge builds over Southcentral ahead of the next front appproaching from the Southwest. Temperatures will remain in the 30’s today and it is forecasted to gradually cool over the next few days. Winds will be light and Easterly.  

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 32   2   .2   NA  
Summit Lake (1400′) 32  0  0  9
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 33   1    .35 16  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 25    ENE 17   46  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 27   NA NA   NA  
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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.