With a sunny and springlike weekend upon us, triggering a lingering wind slab is our main concern. Last Thursday’s impressive outflow event loaded predominantly south and easterly aspects as the northwest winds hammered the mountains. We can expect wind slabs to be generally hard, stubborn and around a foot thick. The problem is that some slabs are sitting on weak faceted older snow, which is keeping them from bonding quickly. Furthermore, warming over the next several days can do funny things in the snowpack and cause slabs to be more touchy.
All this said, keep a close eye out for recent avalanches, whumpfing and cracking in the snow. Many slopes have variable wind effect with loaded areas and scoured areas. Watch for rounded and pillow like features as these are the windloaded areas that could slide.
SUN EFFECT: The days are longer and the sun is higher. Although the snow surface has seen a good degree of wind damage, southerly facing slopes may be soft and susceptible enough to product wet sluffs. There are three things acting in sync over the next several days to cause warming, 1) direct sun, 2) calm winds and 3) warm ambient temperatures. Watch for the snow to start to become moist or wet and remember even a small moist of wet sluff in steep rocky terrain can become unmanageable.
Snow pit from Seattle Ridge’s slide path Repeat Offender that sits just to the south of the motorized up-track.
Video is from Thursday (outflow event day) in the Skookum drainage. Video linked HERE.
South of Turnagain Pass in the Summit Lake and Johnson Pass area, a thinner and weaker snowpack exists. Various weak layers of facets and buried surface hoar reside in the middle and base of the pack. The strong NW winds Thursday proved these buried weak layers are still a concern as many natural avalanches were seen and many of these stepped down into the deeper weak layers. Moving forward, it’s good to be very suspect of these regions with a thin snowpack. Avoiding wind loaded steep slopes and large terrain is prudent as not only a wind slab, but a larger slab may be triggered.
As a reminder for all areas, including Turnagain Pass, there is an older weak layer we are continuing to track. This is the MLK Jr buried surface hoar 1.5’-3’ below the surface. It’s good to keep in mind this layer remains as well as the various layers of facets and crusts in the thinner snowpack zones. Keeping up on our safe travel protocol, including exposing one person at a time and watching our partners is key.
New glide cracks are opening up around our region. The last known release was on the south side of Goat mountain in Girdwood Valley on Tuesday. The best way to manage this problem is to avoid traveling on slopes directly below glide cracks. A short list of known cracks in popular zones: Magnum, Lipps, Seattle Ridge, Eddies, Lynx Ck. Keep your eyes out for these!
Magnum glide crack that has been slowly opening for over a month now. It is unknow whether this crack will release or not, it’s always best to hedge our bets and limit exposure under this and any other crack. (photo: Duncan Wright)
Yesterday: Sunny skies were over the region with light and variable winds along ridgetops. Daytime temperatures were near 30F at sea level and near 20F along ridgetops. Overnight an impressive inversion has set up. At sea level and in valley bottoms temperatures have dropped to the single digits, while ridgetop temperatures continue a slow rise into the 20’sF.
Today: Another round of sun with light and variable ridgetop winds are on tap. Temperatures should recover into the teens in valley bottoms before cooling back down tonight. Upper elevation temperatures should continue a slow rise into the mid 20’sF.
Tomorrow: A ridge of high pressure has built over Southcentral is entrenching itself for the foreseeable future. We can expect sunny skies with gradually warming temperatures for the next 5 days or more. We could see very springlike conditions at mid to upper elevations as temperatures climb to 30F by Monday.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||20||0||0||62|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||12||0||0||30|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||18||0||0||57|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||20||Variable||3||9|