As cold and clear weather dominated not only the past week, but will dominate the coming week as well, our snowpack is in a holding pattern of sorts. It has been 13 days since the last measureable precipitation and a week since the beginning of the Northwest ‘wind event’. Several large wind slab avalanches have occurred over the past week, most of these in the Summit Lake area South of the forecast zone. However, we did get a report of a suspected natural wind slab avalanche in the Girdwood Valley yesterday, on the North end of the forecast zone. This was on an upper elevation, Southwest facing slope, under Goat Mountain (photo below).
If you are headed to the mountains, the avalanche conditions are in a ‘Normal Caution’ regime. This means, avalanches are unlikely, but not impossible. Things to watch for and keep in mind will be:
Old, stubborn and hard wind slabs could pop out in steep and rocky terrain. This is most likely where weak faceted snow sits under shallower hard slabs – usually found in the steep rocky thin zones. Watch for hard snow over weak loose snow as well as shooting cracks and whumphing noises.
Loose Snow (Sluffs):
Dry sluffs on steep slopes are getting larger in areas harboring loose surface snow – watch your sluff! Also, with the decreased winds, the Southerly aspects that have not been sun affected yet could become damp or wet. This may cause natural or human triggered wet/damp sluffs on some steep Southerly slopes.
Glide cracks continue to slowly open on the Southeast face of Seattle Ridge and in the Skookum drainage. These could release at any time, watch for cracks and avoid being under them.
We have not seen, or had any reports of, cornice falls since the Valentine’s Day Storm period. Nonetheless, these should always be given a wide berth from above and limited exposure underneath.
Persistent Slabs and Deep Slabs:
There are various weak layers in our thin snowpack; the snowpack is roughly half of what it normally is this time of year. Buried surface hoar sits 1-3+’ below the surface and faceted snow sits in the mid and base of the pack. These various weak layers with varying degrees of strength are in a dormant stage due to a lack of weather and ample time to adjust. Although this means the layers are not producing avalanches, it doesn’t mean an outlier can’t occur which causes a large avalanche breaking deeper in the pack.
Reported natural avalanche from Surprise Bowl along the Southeast ridge of Goat Mtn. The recent natural is the pocket on the far right side of the photo while the small slab in the center of the photo released at an unkown time.
It was another sunny and cold day in the backcountry yesterday. A late day bump in winds added to the wind chill for those at the higher elevations. Temperatures did climb to the mid 20’sF at sea level during the day before dropping back to the 0F zone last night while ridgetop temperatures remained in the 0-5F range. Ridgetop winds blew between 10-25mph from the Northwest before slowing down overnight to the 5-10mph range.
For today we can expect the ridgetop winds to remain light, 5-10mph from the North. Temperatures will again be cold, in the -5 – 5F range with daytime warming into the mid 20’sF at the lower elevations. Sunny skies are again on tap.
Looking ahead to the workweek, it seems the blocking high pressure over us will remain entrenched through the week and into the weekend. This will continue to bring cold and clear weather with no chance for precipitation.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||6||0||0||62|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||8||0||0||29|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||10||0||0||58|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||8||NW||14||39|
|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: email@example.com
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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