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Wed, March 15th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Thu, March 16th, 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 on steep wind loaded features and in extreme terrain. Pay attention to any recent wind loading and be aware of old hard wind slabs and loose dry avalanches(sluffs) in steep terrain, as well as large cornices. Glide cracks continue to open – limiting exposure under these is recommended.

Good travel habits are important, even during ‘green light conditions’. These include 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 (around Crow Pass):  A reminder that the snowpack remains thinner in these areas with a poor structure. There is still a chance for triggering an avalanche deeper in the snowpack in these areas. Read the  Saturday Summit Summary  HERE.

Wed, March 15th, 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

Northwest winds picked up in the afternoon gusting into the 40s on Seattle Ridge. Overall there is really not much soft snow to blow around. There was some flagging was observed as the settled surface snow (near surface facets) was blown into the atmosphere. If traveling in the Alpine today be on the lookout for freshly pillowed snow and watch for cracking. If there is any fresh wind slab it will be shallow, small pockets. We have seen 21 days without any precipitation and are hoping for a trace of snow today and looking forward to a shift in the overall pattern this weekend. Despite the snowpack conditions being mostly stable and the weak layers dormant, a hard wind slab 12-18” deep was triggered by a snowmachiner four days ago on a SE aspect of Seattle Ridge. This is a good example of a wind loaded terrain feature still harboring unstable snow and a good reminder that LOW danger does not mean NO danger. Kicking off even a small wind slab or loose snow avalanche in steep terrain may have high consequences. Things to keep in mind if you are headed to the mountains today:

Wind Slabs: Old and hard winds slabs are easy to find but for the most part they are locked into place. Smooth pillowed snow on steep unsupported features or in rocky areas will be the most suspect zones for someone to initiate an old wind slab. Pay attention to blowing snow today if the NW winds continue and pick up any soft snow.  Watch for shooting cracks indicating recently loaded slopes.

Loose Snow Avalanches (Sluffs): Dry sluffs on steep slopes are probable and have been fast moving this week.

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.

Cornices: Cornices should always be given 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 its unlikely, an avalanche breaking deeper in the pack isn’t completely out of the question in Johnson Pass, Lynx Creek and in parts of Girdwood Valley (especially around Crow Pass). 

Snowmachine triggered wind slab avalanche on Seattle Ridge on Saturday. This is terrain is the aspect that loads with NW winds. Look for signs of recent loading today. 


Wed, March 15th, 2017

Yesterday was mostly clear and sunny with some high clouds moving in during late afternoon. Temperatures were in the single digits in the alpine and got into the low 20Fs in valley bottoms. NW winds picked up in the afternoon and gusted into the 40s in the evening. Temperatures stayed in the single digits at upper elevations and dropped below 0F in some valley locations overnight.

The diurnal fluctuation is forecasted to continue today with temperatures again rising in the afternoon to the low 20Fs at low to mid elevations and teens at ridge tops and dropping again at night. The skies will be partly to mostly cloudy. There is a slight chance of trace of snow falling today. Winds will continue from the NW gusting into the 20s, potentially increasing in the afternoon.  

Tomorrow will be mostly sunny again with similar temperatures and NW winds. From the National Weather Service regarding the weather pattern shift this weekend,  The trajectory of the low moving  through the gulf, and associated impulses producing precipitation,  are difficult to pinpoint and will be watched closely during the  next few days.” Time for snow dances? Praying? What will make it snow? Stay tuned!  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 10    0 0   59
Summit Lake (1400′)  8  0  0 28  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  12  0  0 56  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 3   W    7 20  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 6  NW  15 42  
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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.