New snow falling today will land on weak surface snow and could easily become a storm slab. Surface hoar was observed to ridge-tops and the snow just below that has also begun to facet. Sluffing in the surface snow was also observed in steep terrain yesterday. Temperatures are on a rising trend today and the snow falling may be a bit upside down as warmer snow falls on colder snow. Winds are forecasted to blow into the 30s from the SE and may gust higher as there is some uncertainty about winds in the weather forecast discussion today. This could contribute to creating slabs especially in leeward terrain along ridgelines. Look for drifting and loading patterns. Give cornices a wide berth and pay attention to changing conditions. Hand pits will be a good way to assess how well the new snow is bonding to the old snow surfaces. As always practice safe travel protocols and watch for shooting cracks and whumpfing.
Surface hoar observed along Seattle Ridge yesterday.
Observations continue to point to a stabilizing snowpack however the big question is, above 3,000′ where the crusts from the warm wet storms disappear and facets under a deep hard slab may remain. Stability tests so far have been done up to 3,300′ and all signs point to a strong snowpack and no reactivity in the facets. This is promising. But, we must be vigilant and conservative this week as we explore the higher elevations and gather more data. Things to keep in mind:
– Triggering a dangerous deep slab avalanche is still possible above 3,000′
– Shallow snowpack areas are most concerning (more trigger points and possibly more reactive facets). For example: the South end of Turnagain Pass, Crow Pass and Summit Lake
– No red flags are likely to be present to indicate an unstable snowpack
Photo: Snow pit from 2820′ in 1st Bowl/Main Bowl on the backside of Seattle Ridge. Stout melt-freeze crust is present in the upper snowpack from the warm/wet storms at this elevation. However, the basal facets in this pit were dry and loose. This is the type of set-up we are concerned in the upper elevations that don’t have the melt-freeze crusts in the upper snowpack.
Yesterday was clear with some patches of valley fog. There was an inversion with temperatures in the valley bottoms in the teens and temperatures at upper elevations in the 20Fs. Winds were very light. Overnight temperatures have been rising and warmer air is moving into the valley bottoms. Portage went from 20F yesteday to 33F this morning.
Today is forecasted to be mostly cloudy with snow showers, 2-6″ of snow possible. The rain/snow line may rise in the afternoon to around 500′. Temperatures will be in the low 30Fs to mid 20Fs depending on elevation. SE winds will be 15-25 mph with higher gusts into the 30s and 40s. Temperatures cool down a bit overnight and winds shift to the SW, 10-20 mph.
Tomorrow will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the 20Fs and light winds. Thursday looks to be clear and sunny. Another storm system is potentially on tap for the weekend but timing, precipitation and temperatures are still TBD.
* Sunburst weather station is down due to loss of battery power.
**Seattle Ridge has been recording intermittently. Data today is not from a full 24 hr period.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||19||0||0||33|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||9||0||0||10|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||21||0||0||26|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||**18||**SE||**12||**25|
|12/10/19||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan and Sunburst from the air||CNFAIC Staff|
|12/10/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Nancy Pfeiffer|
|12/08/19||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Ryan Van Luit Forecaster|
|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|
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
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