Image of Tincan at 3pm Sunday, Nov 5th after 3″ dusting of snow. Turnagain Pass is still very thin – snowpack from 0″ to possibly 1′ at the high elevations, even 2′ where the winds have blown in snow.
Photo from Peter Wadsworth of Sunburst on Monday Nov 6th.
In anticipation of the next storm, we are expecting the cold weather to break down the existing snow and turn it to facets (bad news for the base of a snowpack). Hence, we will be mapping out where and how thick the older snow is to assess future avalanche potential. Hint: photos of slopes, valleys, ridges, etc are a great way to help us with this! What about the wind? There is cold air pushing down from the interior which will create strong winds in Southcentral. Turnagain Pass may be spared but other areas may not. Winds can increase avalanche hazard by rapidly loading slopes – and on that note, we’d like to remind folks about some early season avalanche tips.
Early season hazards:
Rocks, alders, crevasses and avalanches.
Little snow. Keep it simple. What to clue into:
1) Rapid changes in weather? This includes recent or current snowfall, wind, rain on snow and warm temperatures after a storm. One layer of snow can be a slab!
2) Recent avalanches in the past 1 or 2 days?
3) Cracking, collapsing, whumphing? (see photo below)
4) What are the consequences if the slope does slide? Will you go off a cliff? Into a crevasse? Over the rocks? Are there other terrain traps?
Natural avalanches during late October across from the Crow Pass trail in upper Crow Creek Valley (photo: Mike Records)
**Remember the Crow Pass trail crosses several avalanche paths and even a small early season storm can produce slides that run over the trail.
A little over a 2 foot snowpack at 5,000′ at the head of the Milk Glacier. Location of a very large whumph. The top 10″ layer of harder snow is suspected to have collapsed into the weaker faceted snow below (classic set up for slab avalanches). (Mike Records photo)
Final thought for this update: *THINK COLD POWDER!!!!
Winter is on the doorstep!! ARE YOU READY FOR THE 2017/18 SEASON???
Have you dusted off your gear…? What about your avalanche rescue gear? Have you been checking the observation page? What about our weather page?? Don’t be fooled by the low snow cover, avalanche season has begun in certain areas – check out this observation from the Crow Pass trail on Saturday, Nov 4th. Turnagain Pass is still very thin – conditions at Sunburst HERE. Yes, cold, dry and windy weather is forecast this week, but keep your fingers crossed – snow can be just around the corner.
The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center has just open its doors and is gearing up for the season. All staff are returning – yay! This is, Heather Thamm, Aleph Johnston-Bloom, Graham Predeger and Wendy Wagner. We will be issuing intermittent updates on this page until enough snow falls to warrant daily avalanche forecasts in the Turnagain Pass area. During this time, our observation page will house the most up to date information along with our Facebook and Instagram pages (Facebook link in the upper right corner and Instagram: @chugachavy). So please, send us your photos, videos or notes to help us map the early season condtions!
Mark your calendars:
- Thursday, Nov 16th: Friends of the CNFAIC Fall FUNdraiser – Don’t miss this chance to support your avalanche center and get inspired for the season listening to Mark and Janelle Smiley’s amazing adventures!!! 8pm at the Beartooth Theater Pub
Stay tuned for more events, including our free awareness courses and Fireside Chats to be listed on our calendar page this week.