PERSISTENT SLAB AVALANCHES (In our current case: Hard WIND SLABS SITTING ON WEAK SNOW): Its been 4 days since a big wind event loaded Northern aspects and cross loaded many Eastern aspects. This wind event as well as the Christmas snow storm (a week ago) caused widespread avalanching in the area. Several persistent weak layers are buried within the snowpack (facets and buried surface hoar), but strong supportable snow over top is making it stubborn to trigger. In the periphery areas (Girdwood, Johnson, Lynx, Summit Lake and even Kickstep) where a thinner snowpack exists several observers have experienced collapsing/wumpfing in recent days. Including an observer who felt/heard a loud collapse followed by a fast moving shooting crack on their second ascent up Max’s Mountain on Sunday. It will be in these areas where finding unstable snow may be easier.
If you were out yesterday you probably noticed an extreme temperature inversion. Some ridgetops reached 40F while valley bottoms remained in the single digits (F). Today looks similar. Luckily this warming trend did not melt the surface snow and radiation is minimal at this time of year. However when temperatures remain above freezing for several days it should warrant caution. Be skeptical of steep loaded slopes that haven’t avalanched yet. Likely trigger spots will be in thinner areas of the snowpack in steep rocky terrain or on unsupported slopes that may harbor just the right set-up for a person or snowmachine to tip the balance. Obvious signs like cracking and ‘wumpfing’ are becoming less common in the Turnagain Pass area and may not be an early warning sign. The problem with hard slabs, as noted by local ski guide and avalanche educator, Joe Stock, “They let you get out in to middle with no feedback, then they crack far uphill from you.” Be sure to check out Stock’s excellent discussion on Close Calls With Avalanches.
This is why we should always practice safe travel habits to minimize exposure in avalanche terrain!
These slabs on the North side of Tincan likely released during the Dec.30th wind event. This a good example of where pockets of poor snowpack structure may linger. It is in these places where practicing safe travel protocals is very important. Photo taken 1/2/17
Yesterday skies were sunny with light Northwest ridge top wind. A large temperature inversion was observed, valley bottoms were in the single digits (F) and ridge tops reached 40F. A thick valley fog filled Turnagain Arm.
Overnight ridge top temps dipped slightly into the mid-30F’s and valley temps averaged around 10F. Winds have remained light and no precipitation was recorded.
Today expect a similar inverted weather pattern with above freezing temperatures near ridgetops. Northwest ridge top winds are expected to pick up today, 10-20mph. Dense Valley fog may linger in and along Turnagain Arm.
A dominent high pressure is positioned over Interior and Southcentral, Alaska. The latest weather discussion mentions the potential for strong gap winds Wednesday night thru Thursday and cooling upper elevation temperatures. This could bring a windchill factor well below zero (F.)
An impressive photo taken yesterday of recent surface hoar growth (~4″ long) found on Center Ridge. Don’t worry this on the surface of the snow and doesn’t present any current concerns. Photo courtesy of Sam Galoob
Thick valley fog along Turnagain Pass yesterday was a result of the extreme temperature inversion in our region.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||30||0||0||37|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||12||0||0||11|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||29||0||0||25|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||37||NW||4||17|
|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.