The Turnagain, Girdwood and Placer zones have entered the “Normal Caution” regime of backcountry hazards. What this means is triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible. What to keep in mind in the backcountry today:
Today will be the 6th day of sunny and springtime weather; sunglasses have entered back into the morning checklist. The warmest day so far was Monday 2/25. Several wet loose avalanches were seen on steep rocky slopes. A few slabs popped out on Monday as well under rock bands triggered by wet loose debris. These slabs, seen in the photo below, were likely composed of the 10-16″ of settled storm snow from 2/16-2/20. Today is not expected to be as warm as Monday but tomorrow has a chance. Keep close tabs on how the snow surface is heating up during the day. It is springtime and time to consider travel routes for late in the day.
Steep rocky southerly facing slopes are feeling the springtime sun and warm ambient air temperatures. Many wet loose avalanches released Monday afternoon 2/25 during the warmest day seen this season (this one pictured is from Crow Ck drainage).
South of Turnagain – Summit Lake/Silvertip/Johnson Pass zones: A shallow snowpack with a generally poor snowpack structure exists in these areas. A variety of weak layers sit in the mid and base of the snowpack and were re-activated last Thursday by the outflow wind event. Many natural avalanches were seen on windloaded slopes in the Summit Lake area. Although whumpfing has been observed in the Summit area, no signs of instability may be encountered before a slab is triggered.
Again a quick recap of the weak layers sitting in the pack:
If you’re headed this way, remember the snowpack becomes more complex – evaluate terrain exposure and the snowpack as you travel.
Natural avalanche on Fresno Pk from last Thursday, 2/21. This slide was triggered by significant wind loading from the outflow wind event. It broke in weak layers deeper in the snowpack.
Yesterday: Sunny skies with light and variable ridgetop winds were once again over the region. Daytime temperatures warmed to the mid 30’sF from valley bottoms to the high peaks. Overnight, the nocturnal inversion set back in and single digit temperatures are being reported at Portage and in low-lying areas along the Seward highway such as Johnson Pass.
Today: Sunny skies will again be over the region. Winds are expected to be a bit more organized along ridgetops and blowing light 5-10mph from the NW. Temperatures should warm to the mid 30’sF by the early afternoon in the lower elevations while the upper elevations will remain in the low 30’sF.
Tomorrow: Sunny skies and light winds are on tap tomorrow. However, we could see a few degrees warmer daytime temperatures at all elevations according to the weather models. The ridge of high pressure over Southcentral AK will keep the skies mostly clear through the week.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||25||0||0||60|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||16||0||0||29|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||24||0||0||56|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||29||N||2||5|