Above ~2,000′ our concern is the New Year’s storm snow that has now settled into a slab, around 12 – 20″ at Turnagain Pass and 20-30″ in the Girdwood Valley. We have the buried surface hoar that was the cause for last week’s avalanche activity that sits right under this New Year’s snow. Could this slab/weak layer combination be triggered by the weight of a skier or snowmachiner? The answer is still YES. The buried surface hoar layer is slowly gaining strength and the slab is becoming more stubborn to trigger. However, snow pit results are still showing this layer to be reactive and to propagate – meaning human triggered slabs are possible if one hits the wrong spot on the slope. In addition, we are also concerned about slopes that avalanched in early December which have a thinner snowpack and harbor facets under the slab. Observers yesterday dug in a thinner spot on Sunburst and found reactive facets near the ground.
On January 2nd it rained up to 2,000-2,300′, creating melt-freeze crusts in the upper snowpack at these elevations and below, making triggering an avalanche unlikely in lower elevation terrain.
For those riders and skiers headed out today:
Wendy’s video and photo from 3,000′ on Sunday illustrate our current buried surface hoar issue well:
Thin snowpack at 3400′ on Sunburst. Note the weak faceted snow at the base under the slab. Photo: Sam Galoob
Still reading… Deep Persistent Slabs have been in the forecast every day starting December 14th. Unfortunately it is a concern that we can’t ignore. At high elevations above 3,000’, human triggered large and dangerous deep slab avalanches are still possible. Weak sugary snow (basal facets) near the ground is creating a low probability/high consequence avalanche problem that is impossible to outsmart and will take a long time to heal. A big trigger like a snowmachine, more than one skier on the slope at the same time or a slab avalanche in the upper layers of the snowpack may be enough force to initiate a deep slab avalanche. Likely trigger spots will be in thinner areas of the snowpack that are connected to large, loaded slopes. Cautious route-finding is essential. This includes thinking about the remote trigger potential from below.
Yesterday was mostly clear and sunny above the valley fog. Temperatures were in the low 20Fs at upper elevations and in the teens to single digits in the valley bottoms. Winds were mostly light and variable.
Today there will be patchy valley fog in the morning but that should dissipate as cold dry air pushes into the region. Winds will be northerly 5-15 mph with gusts into the 20s. Temperatures will be in the low 20s and high teens today, dropping into the low teens and single digits tonight.
Tomorrow will be partly cloudy with a chance of snow showers in the afternoon and temperatures in the high teens and low 20Fs. Winds will be from the SE 10-20mph. The weather looks to be unsettled into the weekend with snow showers and warming temperatures. Stay tuned!
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||24||0||0||43|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||6||0||0||15|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||18||0||0||36|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||21||S||10||23|
|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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