The snowpack is heating up and beginning to slide off the mountain sides. Not everywhere, but the usual suspects have seen large wet avalanches over the past couple days, with the majority of the activity two days ago on Wednesday. Pyramid’s West face and the Southeast facing aspects of Seattle Ridge are these suspects and true to tradition, these slopes have seen the majority of the action. Although we have likely gone through the peak of acitivity for this first ‘warm-up’, any steep slope with a more shallow snowpack and baking in the sun is a concern for a naturally occurring large wet avalanche.
For those headed out today, and this weekend, timing is everything. This morning, it’s likely that the wet surface snow has undergone a fairly solid re-freeze and the avalanche danger is LOW. As the day heats up and the crusts melt and lose strength, the danger rises. This is when wet avalanches can begin to release, either naturally or by a person. Remember solar noon is around 2pm so the snowpack is the warmest, and most dangerous, from ~1pm till ~5pm. Once snow becomes wet and ‘mushy’ up to you boot top, or your track starts trenching in wet snow, it’s time to head to a more supportable surface. Even a small wet avalanche can turn into something larger in bigger terrain.
Photo below is on one example of the many large wet loose/wet slab avalanches on the Southeast face of Seattle Ridge occurring Wednesday.
Wider angle view of Seattle Ridge and the many large wet avalanches from Wednesday.
Large wet loose slides from Tuesday on the East face of Pyramid.
The West face of Pyramid continues to shed its snowcover as the days go by. Note the slabs on the lower looker’s left of photo – these occurred sometime Wednesday evening/Thurs morning.
Triggering a dry(ish) slab avalanche is still possible and occurred yesterday. A skier was caught and carried in a slab around a foot deep in the Johnson Pass zone. Skier was ok. This slope was at 4,900′ on a West aspect.
Upper elevation zones (above 3,500′) received up to a foot of new snow on Tues/Wed this week while light rain fell down low. This 8-12″ of snow is sitting on predominantly sun crust on E, S and West aspects. If you are in these higher elevation areas, such as near Whittier, Bench Peak, etc., watch for any new snow to become moist and possibly slide on the slick sun crust underneath. Hence, triggering a dry slab avalanche is still possible at the upper elevations.
Yesterday, sunny skies with light Easterly winds were over the region. Temperatures climbed to the low 50’sF at 1,000′ and to the upper 30’sF along the higher ridgelines at 4,000′. Overnight, a few clouds have moved in and temperatures have dropped to the 30’sF across the board – from ridgetops to sea level.
For today, most sunny skies and another warm day are forecast. Temperatures should again reach 50F at 1,000′ at Turnagain Pass, mid 50’sF at sea level and just under 40F along ridgelines. Ridgetop winds will remain light (5-10mph) from the East before slowly shifting Northerly by tonight.
For the weekend, sunny and blue skies will be over the region. Ridgetop winds at this time are expected to be light and Northerly bringing in slightly cooler air. Temperatures should be on a textbook durnal trend with cooling overnight and warming during the day. Models are suggesting the possibility for light rain Monday into Tuesday associated with a low-pressure developing near the Aleutians.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||40||0||0||69|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||42||0||0||25|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||41||0||0||66|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||35||E||10||27|
|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: email@example.com
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