ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Wednesday December 12th, 2018
Posted by Heather Thamm on 12/12/18 at 7:00 am.
The Bottom Line
Moderate Avalanche Danger
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

The avalanche danger is  MODERATE  in the Alpine and at Treeline where triggering a slab 1-3′ deep is possible. Keep an eye out for glide cracks and avoid traveling underneath this unpredictable avalanche hazard. Assess the snowpack as you travel, identify areas of concern and evaluate terrain consequences.

UPDATE: An unexpected sleeper storm is upon us!! We’ve seen 6-12″ in the Girdwood Valley and 3″ in Turnagain Pass between 6am and 10am. This is a very low density snow storm with little volume and little wind. Expect ‘sluffs’ in steep terrain and pay attention to new snow accumulation. In areas recieving a foot or more of snow the avalanche danger could increase to  CONSIDERABLE.

2. Moderate
Alpine
/ Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
2. Moderate
Treeline
/ 1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
1. Low
Below Treeline
/ Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

Special Announcements

If you are heading to Hatcher Pass  make sure  to check out  the  latest observations  HERE for details on several  human triggered avalanches that occurred Sunday. Be aware alaskasnow.org is undergoing a systemwide website update and Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center webpage may be temporarily unavailable today.    

Looking for avalanche courses or evening presentations? Check out our  calendar page! There are two CNFAIC evening discussions coming up – these are FREE and a great way to get your head back in the avalanche game. Tomorrow –  ‘Tales from the Pit’ at Blue & Gold Boardshop in Anchorage!

Avalanche Problem 1
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.
  • TYPE
    Persistent Slabs
  • Chance
    Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Incremental loading over the last three days and more observations have nudged the mid-elevation band to MODERATE danger for triggering a slab 1-3’ thick releasing on weak snow. Yesterday on Magnum Mountain widespread ‘whumpfing’ caused a group to turn around at 2300’. A reactive layer of facets between two crusts showed easy propagation and they had low confidence in continuing into steeper terrain. This is a good reminder that it is still early season and limited snowpack observations exist across the forecast zone. Areas with a thinner snowpack are more suspect for weaker and unstable snow including the Southern-end of Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake and Girdwood Valley.

In the Alpine on the Northern end of Turnagain Pass stability tests have been showing a strengthening snowpack. However keep in mind North and East aspects have a tendency to be thinner and there is a zone in the mid-elevations where the snowpack quickly transitions to shallower depths. 

As always be on the lookout for red flag warnings like whumpfing’, shooting cracks, new avalanche activity and any changes in weather. Today a 1-3″ inches of snow is expected and there is currently 4-8” of loose snow available for transport. Should ridgetop winds increase above the forecasted 5-15mph, keep an eye out for active wind loading. Any sign of increased winds could form wind slabs or add stress to a persistent slab.

One of three pits between 2000′ and 2300′ on Magnum’s NW shoulder that showed poor structure and propagation potential in stability tests

Avalanche Problem 2
Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches are the release of the entire snow cover as a result of gliding over the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow. They typically occur in very specific paths, where the slope is steep enough and the ground surface is relatively smooth. The are often proceeded by full depth cracks (glide cracks), though the time between the appearance of a crack and an avalanche can vary between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, are nearly impossible to forecast, and thus pose a hazard that is extremely difficult to manage.
  • TYPE
    Glide Avalanches
  • Chance
    Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Yesterday several glide cracks were noted on the Southwest face of Sunburst below the weather station. A glide crack is the snowpack being pulled by gravity downhill along the ground. They can release at any moment without warning and are usually not associated with human triggers. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid being on or beneath any slopes with cracks opening up. 

These are the first glide cracks of the season and we hope the last.  If you see any new glide cracks in other areas, snap a photo, and send us an observation HERE. This helps us provide better information in our forecasts.  

 

Mountain Weather

Yesterday: Snow showers ended yesterday morning and skies were partly cloudy. Temperatures fell throughout the day from the upper-20Fs into the low-20F’s. Overnight ridgetop temps have fallen into the teens F. Winds were light and variable.

Today: Light snow flurries started early this morning. A few inches of snow (1-3″) is possible today across our region at all elevations. Temperatures will remain in the low 20F’s at 1000′ and low-teens F near ridgetops. Light Westerly winds 5-10 mph are expected to increase 10-15mph later this evening.    

Tomorrow: Temperature will remain in the low 20F’s to low teens. Partly sunny skies are in the forecast for tomorrow and light winds. Friday into Saturday looks like our next best chance for snow showers.

*Seattle Ridge weather station anemometer is rimed and not recording wind data.    

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 25   0   0    29
Summit Lake (1400′) 24   1   0.1   7  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 25 2 0.16 13

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 17   variable   2   8  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 23   *N/A   *N/A   *N/A