Observation: Seward

Location: Carter Lake

Route & General Observations

We toured up to Carter Lake to see how the weak snow from the January cold spell was behaving. We found that layer and did get a concerning result described in the snowpack section. The trail is in great shape with no water crossings. Plenty of soft snow on the surface in the locations that we traveled.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

We triggered some small loose dry avalanches on steep test slopes.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
Please provide details to help us determine the weather and snowpack during the time this observation took place.

There were high clouds today so we could see the surrounding mountains, but the visibility was challenging with flat light. Temperatures were in the upper 20’s F, winds were light and variable, and there was no precipitation.

Snow surface

There was consistently about 8” of settled soft snow since the January 28 storm with another 12” or more of facets beneath the new snow at all elevations up to our pit at 2,200’.


We dug a pit at 2,200’ on a southeast aspect. The snowpack was about 4.5’ deep (142cm). In general, the snowpack is strong and right side up. However, beneath the 8” of settled snow that has fallen since January 28 there is a layer of weak snow (facets) that is just over 1’ thick. Our results (CT1 PC and ECTP12 down 8”, 20cm) indicate that in this location there is a slab sitting on top of that weak layer and with easy to moderate force it is capable of avalanching (failure and propagation). This layer is showing signs of strengthening (4F hardness), but it could take some time before it will bond with the surrounding snow.

Photos & Video
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