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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Wed, April 4th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, April 5th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
The Bottom Line

With snow and wind in the forecast today expect the avalanche danger to rise from LOW this morning to CONSIDERABLE  this afternoon as the storm intensifies. Storm slabs will grow in size and become more likely to trigger as the day progresses. Pay attention to changing conditions. In addition, keep in mind the chance of triggering  an old hard slab avalanche 2-4′ thick and give cornices a wide berth.  

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Wed, April 4th, 2018
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

How much snow will fall and how fast? Pay attention to changing conditions! Over a foot is forecast to fall along Turnagain Pass with the storm intensifying this afternoon. Snow in amounts in Portage may be closer to two feet. Snow today will be landing on a variety of surfaces ranging from wind hardened snow to melt-freeze crusts.  In some spots there are small weak facets resting on top of these hard layers. Will the new snow bond to the old snow? That really is the question of the day. As snow accumulates watch for cracking, listen and look for collapsing (whumpfing) and realize triggering a storm slab could become likely by this afternoon. Stronger winds will move snow around and help create deeper slabs in leeward terrain. 

Variable surface conditions that new snow may not bond well to. Photo: Troy Tempel

Soft facets over a hard crust. This could become a reactive set-up with new snow landing on top.

 

 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Deep Persistent Slabs
    Deep Persistent Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
Deep Persistent Slabs
Deep Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a thick cohesive layer of hard snow (a slab), when the bond breaks between the slab and an underlying persistent weak layer deep in the snowpack. The most common persistent weak layers involved in deep, persistent slabs are depth hoar or facets surrounding a deeply buried crust. Deep Persistent Slabs are typically hard to trigger, are very destructive and dangerous due to the large mass of snow involved, and can persist for months once developed. They are often triggered from areas where the snow is shallow and weak, and are particularly difficult to forecast for and manage.

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

With new snow in the forecast today is important to remember the current snowpack has a poor structure with many weak layers that sit 2-4′ below the surface. Some times these layers can be woken up by additional load.  These layers are composed of facets and buried surface hoar. The slab on top is hard and varies in thickness due to prior wind effect. The snow surface has been beat up by wind and sun over the past three weeks. We are still concerned someone could find just the wrong spot on just the wrong slope and trigger a dangerous avalanche. Places most suspect are thin snowpack zones such as the Girdwood Valley and the South end of Turnagain Pass. Additionally, North and Easterly slopes in general have a thinner pack making them more suspect. Trigger points in this situation are often in thin areas near rocks or in scoured areas along ridges. 

Additional Concern
  • Cornice
    Cornice
Cornice
Cornice Fall is the release of an overhanging mass of snow that forms as the wind moves snow over a sharp terrain feature, such as a ridge, and deposits snow on the downwind (leeward) side. Cornices range in size from small wind drifts of soft snow to large overhangs of hard snow that are 30 feet (10 meters) or taller. They can break off the terrain suddenly and pull back onto the ridge top and catch people by surprise even on the flat ground above the slope. Even small cornices can have enough mass to be destructive and deadly. Cornice Fall can entrain loose surface snow or trigger slab avalanches.
More info at Avalanche.org

Watch out for cornices along ridgelines. These could grow larger with new snow and wind loading today. As always, give cornices plenty of space and limit exposure underneath them. 

Weather
Wed, April 4th, 2018

Yesterday was partly cloudy with temperatures in the teens to low 20Fs at upper elevations and the 30Fs around sea level. Winds were easterly 5-15 mph and picked up overnight with a few gusts into the 30s.  

Today will be mostly cloudy with skies becoming obscured. A storm is forecast to impact the advisory area with snow starting this morning.   Precipitiation intensity should ramp up this afternoon and continue overnight.  There is a Special Weather Statement from the NWS. 6-10″ of snow is forecast to fall today with another 10-15″ tonight. Temperatures will be in the 20Fs.   Today and tonight winds will be Easterly 10-20 mph with gusts into the 30s and 40s.    

The storm should start to wind down by Thursday morning with skies becoming mostly clear by the evening. Friday into the weekend looks to be mostly sunny with a chance for snow again starting Monday.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′)  22  0  0  75
Summit Lake (1400′)  21  0  0  31
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  24  0  0  69

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  12  E  8  25
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  18  ESE  15  34
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Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 2020

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: mailroom_r10_chugach@fs.fed.us

Area Status Weather & Riding Conditions
Glacier District
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Closed
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Closed
Skookum Drainage
Closed
Turnagain Pass
Closed
Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
Twentymile
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Carter Lake
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Snug Harbor
Closed
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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.