After weeks of rain and HIGH danger the avalanche advisory may sound like a bit of a broken record. The sunshine and blue skies in the forecast today may be very enticing but the snowpack needs more time. The rain has essentially made a giant slurpee on the slopes that has been avalanching, gouging to the ground and running to sea level. There was a superficial freeze last night that will quickly deteriorate. Today the slurpee is going to get heated by sunshine and unseasonably warm air temperatures with highs in the 40Fs. Free water running through the snow could stress the snowpack out and trigger large wet slab and wet loose avalanches, especially on solar aspects. Rocky areas and steep slopes in the direct sun will heat up first. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended today, this includes runout zones. The snowpack needs a solid freeze and time to drain and adjust.
Glide avalanches are a totally unpredictable hazard that are also a concern today. There have been a number of glide avalanches throughout the advisory area over that past few days and there are cracks in popular terrain. This is another reason to steer clear of avalanche terrain. Don’t mess with the brown frown!
Above 3000′ and the wet snow hazards the Alpine terrain has received feet of snow with strong winds. There is now a potential deep slab issue. Underneath all the snow the interface with the March 8th old snow is a concern. Buried facets and surface hoar at this interface was the suspected weak layer in the impressive avalanche cycle that occurred before this past week of feet of snow. Today the sunshine and warm upper elevation temperatures could stress the cold snow slabs as well. Large, deep slab avalanches are likely in the Alpine and could occur naturally or be triggered from thin spots by humans on skis or snowmachines. Don’t be lured into avalanche terrain today on a quest for spring powder. These slabs could be very dangerous and destructive. Again, the snowpack needs time to adjust. Be patient and remember the travel advice for the day is travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.
Tincan North side avalanche on 3-18-19, Photo 3-19-19: Travis Smith. There is the potential for slab avalanches like this in the Alpine today.
Cornices are very large and warm air temperatures and direct sunshine could destabilize them today. They have the potential to trigger very large and destructive avalanches on the slopes below and break way farther back than expected. Give them a wide berth and recognize that they could release naturally today.
Yesterday: There was mostly cloudy skies with some pockets of clearing and light rain/snow showers. Temperatures were in the 20Fs in the Alpine and the 40Fs at sea level. Winds were easterly 15-25 mph with gusts into the 50s. Overnight skies became broken and temperatures cooled slightly. Easterly winds were in teens with gusts into the 20s.
Today: Partly sunny skies with temperatures in the 30Fs and 40Fs. Winds will be very light and southerly. Overnight temperatures will be in the high 20Fs to 30Fs with partly cloudy skies. Valley fog is in the forecast as an inversion sets in.
Tomorrow: Valley fog in the morning with mostly clear and sunny skies with highs in the 40Fs and light north winds. The week ahead looks to very similar as the ridge of high pressure is forecast to sit over the area.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||35||0||0.1||72|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||34||0||0||24|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||35||0||0.3||67|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||30||SE||12||32|