Surface instabilities in the form of fresh wind slabs make up the primary avalanche concern today. With more wind than precipitation yesterday in the Turnagain pass area we can expect to find wind slabs in the 6-12” range on wind-loaded and cross-loaded slopes above treeline. As these last couple of storms have come in quite warm, wind slabs appear to be adhering well and may be stubborn to initiate. Very steep, wind-loaded terrain may be the exception. Overall, across the Turnagain pass zone (and above about 2K), the snowpack is deep and is lacking any reactive persistent weak layers. Aside from glide cracks (more info below) any instability today should be relegated to the top 12-18” of our snowpack. You can quickly test for surface instability by conducting hasty hand pits or jumping on (no consequence) test slopes with your skis or machine.
Cornices deserve a note as well, as these warm, windy storms prove ideal to continue to add to their mass. Avoid time spent below and when travelling along a corniced ridge, whether on skis or snowmachine maintain a healthy distance (and then some!) from the edge.
Note: The Girdwood Valley recieved about twice as much water (.9″) as Turnagain pass yesterday. If venturing into the upper elevations around Girdwood, fresh wind slabs and storm slabs are likely to be thicker.
Visibility yesterday limited a look at many of the glide cracks that we’ve been monitoring over the last 2-weeks, including a behemoth on the SW face of Corn Biscuit. If someone were to tangle with a glide avalanche, it would simply be a ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ scenario. It’ll be best to limit or avoid altogether time spent underneath glide cracks and recognize them for the dangerous, unpredictable avalanche problem that they are.
This photo is of a very large glide crack as observed last Thursday, 1/21. Yesterday, visibility was too poor to see if this had progressed anymore toward failure but see Wendy’s obervation from 1/24. She was able to see visible changes in this crack over an hour timespan.
Another concern today in this mid-elevation band comes in the form of wet-loose avalanches as the snowpack is quite heavy and wet below 2,000′. With continued warmer than normal temps and a slight chance of a few rays of sun today, we may see some wet-loose and/ or roller ball activity in steep, mid-elevation terrain.
A low ceiling and steady precipitation around eastern Turnagain arm dominated yesterday’s weather. Temps were hovering around 34 F at 1,000′ (37 F at sea level) with a rain/ snow mix at the Turnagain pass parking lots and the rain-snow line around 1,300′. Ridgetop winds were moderate from the NE averaging in the 30’s and gusting to 63 mph before tapering off a bit overnight. Center ridge SNOTEL site (1880′) picked up a couple inches of snow (.4 € water) in the last 24 hours while Girdwood picked up .9″ of water as reported at the Alyeska mid-station.
Today looks to be a slight break in our active weather pattern before another Low and associated front rolls through southcentral AK tomorrow morning. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30’s at 1,000′ with ridgetop winds from the East in the 10-25mph range. Skies will be mostly cloudy but we shouldn’t expect to see more than an inch or two of snow wrung out today in favored areas of the Pass.
More unsettled weather is on tap as we head toward the weekend with the big quetion being precipitation type and just where that rain/ snow line will fall.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||32||2||.4||92|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||33||1||.2||28|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||33||0||.9||73|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||28||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|12/06/19||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst||Billy Finley|
|12/04/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||A.Johnston-Bloom/ W.Wagner/ R.Van Luit Forecaster|
|12/03/19||Turnagain||Observation: Hippy Bowl||Nick Langowski|
|12/01/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan, All elevations||Eric Roberts|
|12/01/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Andy Moderow|
|11/30/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Treeline Plateau/ Common Bowl/ Ridge||Eric Roberts|
|11/29/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst Ob #2||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/29/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst Ob #1||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/27/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/25/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunnyside||Graham Predeger 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
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