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Archives
ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Wed, February 28th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, March 1st, 2018 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  MODERATE  at all elevations due to Monday’s storm snow combined with moderate to strong winds over the past two days. Human triggered wind slabs 1-2′ thick will be possible. Expect loose snow sluffs in steep protected terrain.  Additionally,  old weak layers deeper in the pack may be triggered, creating a larger avalanche. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.  

There was a skier trigger avalanche yesterday in Summit Lake. Read the Saturday Summit Summary  HERE  and current observations HERE.  

Special Announcements

Lost Lake Trail, Primrose Trail,  South Fork Snow River Corridor and 20 Mile are all open for motorized use as of today. At 20 Mile please cross the railroad tracks at the designated spot as you leave the parking area.

If heading to Lost Lake area check out an observation describing a snowmachine triggered avalanche that occured yesterday HERE.

Wed, February 28th, 2018
Alpine
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
  • Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

Yesterday there was evidence of the winds moving Monday’s snow around across the region. Scouring, anti-tracks and drifting were observed, especially along upper elevation ridges. A few small natural winds slabs from right after the storm were observed with the crowns mostly filled in.  There were no reports of human triggered winds slab avalanches in the advisory area but there was wind slab triggered in Summit Lake by a party skinning on the Tenderfoot ridge and a snowmachine triggered wind slab in Lost Lake. Northwest winds picked up in the evening and are forecast to remain strong throughout the day today. There is still some snow available for transport. Expect loading and slabs along ridgelines and look for pillowed or drifted snow. Northerly winds can funnel though Turnagain Pass from the South (especially at lower elevations) and there maybe loading on multiple aspects. Watch for shooting cracks and areas with stiffer snow. Steep, unsupported slopes that are loaded will be the most suspect. Slabs may be stiffer and harder to trigger today. They may be initially supportable and then fail above once out onto the slab. Look for blowing snow and pay attention to changing conditions.

Loose snow avalanches (sluffs): On steep slopes protected from the wind expect the new snow to sluff easily. These loose snow avalanches may be fast running and entrain snow quickly. 

Sunshine:  Remember that it is that time of year when we need to pay attention to the sun.  The sun can heat up Southerly aspects, and melt surface snow and cause small point releases in the loose new snow. This will be more of a concern if winds become calm this afternoon. This heating can also cause a slab sitting on a weak layer to become more reactive. Avoid steep solar aspect if you notice the surface snow becoming moist or you see roller balls or point releases under rocks. 

Wind effect on Eddies

Skier triggered sluff on Seattle Ridge

 Snowmachine triggered wInd slab Lost Lake. 

 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
  • Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

The overall snowpack structure across the advisory area is poor and it is important to keep in mind that larger slides breaking in persistent weak layers could still occur.  The new snow load Monday, combined with the winds over the past two days, has added to the overall weight/stress from the small storms last week. This incremental loading can slowly overload weak layers making them more prone to triggering. Furthermore, avalanches triggered in the upper layers of the snowpack, like a fresh wind slab, have the potential to step down to the buried weak layers. In the upper elevations a layer of buried surface hoar from Jan. 21st continues to show signs of reactivity and in the mid-elevations a layer of facets over a melt-freeze crust is suspect. Observers on Tincan noted finding both layers Monday in their snowpits. 

Deep Persistent Slabs:  At the high elevations above 3,000′, deeper persistent layers could ‘wake up’ if the wrong spot is found. Old weak layers of facets and buried surface hoar sit in the bottom half of the snowpack. This structure is most pronounced in places with a thin overall snow cover, such as the South end of Turnagain Pass, the Summit Lake area and Crow Pass. 

 

Weather
Wed, February 28th, 2018

Yesterday was partly cloudy. Temperatures at upper elevations were in the single digits while the valleys were in the teens to low 20Fs. Winds shifted in the morning from SW to NW. Winds were light to moderate during the day and picked up in the evening gusting into the 60s on Seattle Ridge. Skies cleared overnight.  

Today will be sunny and temperatures will be in the single digits at upper elevations and 20Fs at lower elevations. Winds will continue from the NW 20-30 mph gusting into the 40s during the day. They are forecast to slowly diminish overnight and into tomorrow.  

Sunshine continues Thursday with slightly warmer temperatures and light winds. Clouds move in on Friday and there is a chance of snow over the weekend and into next week. Stay tuned for details!  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 20   0   0   73  
Summit Lake (1400′) 11    0     0    30    
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 12   0    0      65

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  2  NW  9 51  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  8  NW  25 66  
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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.