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Sat, March 11th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Sun, March 12th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A  LOW  avalanche danger remains in the backcountry  at all elevations. Although triggering an avalanche is unlikely, it is not impossible. With today’s  daytime warming watch for East-through-South-through-West-facing slopes to heat up enough to initiate rollerballs and possibly some shallow wet loose avalanches.  Other things to watch for are  old hard wind slabs in steep rocky terrain, dry sluffs on steep slopes with soft snow and cornice falls loosening with the warmth. Glide cracks continue to open – limiting exposure under these is recommended.

Remember that good travel habits remain important, even during ‘green light conditions’. This includes exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves.  

Summit Lake, South of Johnson Pass and North (in parts of the Girdwood Valley):  A reminder that the snowpack remains thinner in these areas with a poor structure. The chance for triggering an avalanche that breaks in the old weak layers is unlikely but not nonexistent. Read the Saturday Summit Summary HERE.

Sat, March 11th, 2017
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Yesterday was the warmest day we have seen in almost two weeks. There were no reports of wet loose avalanches or significant roller ball activity but Southerly surfaces were warming up and becoming wet/damp. Today will be another day to pay attention to surface conditions in the afternoon on East to South to West slopes. Steeper slopes and slopes under rock bands will be most suspect. Keep a close eye on any warming taking place on the snow surface. Soft snow still sits on many slopes and roller balls could occur in these areas and a there is chance of shallow wet loose avalanche activity. Slopes with old sun crusts or wind slabs/crusts will be slower to be affected by the warming. 

Other things to keep in mind if you are headed to the mountains to enjoy these long sunny days:

Glide Avalanches:
Glide cracks continue to slowly open above popular terrain on Seattle Ridge and in other areas of the advisory area. These could release at any time, watch for these cracks and avoid being under them.

Wind Slabs:
Old and hard winds slabs are easy to find but for the most part they are locked into place. Steep rocky areas, where they are not supported from below, will be the most suspect zones for someone to pop one out. 

Loose Snow Avalanches (Sluffs):
Watch your sluff. Dry sluffs on steep slopes are probable and are getting larger by the day. And, as mentioned above, wet loose (or damp) sluffs, both natural and human triggered, may occur.

Cornices may start to loosen with the warming – as always, give these monsters a wide berth from above and limit exposure time traveling underneath.

Persistent Slabs and Deep Slabs:
There are various weak layers in our thin snowpack. Buried surface hoar sits 1-3+’ below the surface and faceted snow sits in the mid and base of the pack. These weak layers with varying degrees of strength are in a dormant stage due to plenty of time to adjust with a lack of changing weather. Although this means the layers are not producing avalanches, it doesn’t mean an outlier can’t occur which could cause a large avalanche breaking deeper in the pack. 

Glide cracks North of the uptrack. A series of cracks like these extend out Seattle Ridge to the North at this elevation.


Sat, March 11th, 2017

Yesterday was mostly sunny and was the warmest day we have seen in almost two weeks. Temperatures rose into the high 20Fs by late afternoon. There was also some high clouds that moved in later in the day. Winds were light and from the Southeast. Temperatures dropped back down into the teens and single digits overnight.  

Today is forecasted to be fairly similar with temperatures in the high 20Fs and light NW winds. Skies will be mostly clear with a few lingering clouds this morning. Tonight temperatures will drop into the teens. Tomorrow the sunshine will continue and temperatures will be slightly cooler. This pattern looks to persist into early next week and then there is a change with a chance for clouds and snow in the later half.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 16   0   0    60
Summit Lake (1400′)  13 0 0 29  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  22 0 0  56

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  16  SE   3 10  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  17  SE 9  17
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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.