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Issued
Thu, March 24th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Expires
Fri, March 25th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning backcountry travelers this is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, March 24th at 7am. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).

BOTTOM LINE

This morning’s avalanche danger rating is LOW, but pockets of MODERATE may develop if we get the forecasted snow today. Any new snow will have a tough time bonding to the old crusty wind board surface layers.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION

Our increasing avalanche hazard is going to be related to the amount of snow we get. Last night a couple of inches accumulated in the Portage/Grandview areas but didn’t seem to hit Turnagain Pass and Girdwood.

For today the primary concern is the interface between the new snow and the old snow. After nearly a month without snowfall the surface is a mix of suncrust, wind board, ice crust, and sastrugi. Some sheltered areas also have surface hoar crystals. All of these slippery, low friction surfaces will be a potential sliding surface for the new snow.

The deeper weak layers are less of a concern until we get a larger amount of snow. The poor structure that’s been plaguing us all season is still out there. Check out this pit profile from yesterday. We are finding most areas have a strong upper structure. Shallow zones are harboring weak facets and depth hoar underneath those stronger layers. This is the same recipe that caused the fatal avalanche last weekend at Hatcher Pass. Given enough new snow we will see areas of avalanching within these layers.

Encyclopedia of avalanche terms.

WEATHER ROUNDUP

Snow is in the forecast for the next several days. The systems that are producing the weather are somewhat weak and are not expected to produce large amounts of snow. Last night some areas closer to Prince William Sound got 1-2 inches. This trend is expected to continue today with 2-5 inches possible.

Wind is forecasted at 20-30mph from the East. West facing slopes and North and South crossloaded slopes will be the highest concern for new wind slabs.

I will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call at 754-2369 or send us your observations using the button at the top of this page. Thanks and have a great day.

The NWS weather forecast for:

WESTERN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND-

INCLUDING…WHITTIER…SEWARD…GIRDWOOD…MOOSE PASS

500 AM AKDT THU MAR 24 2011

.TODAY…NUMEROUS RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 2

INCHES ABOVE 1000 FT. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO LOWER 40S. EAST WIND 10

TO 15 MPH.

.TONIGHT…NUMEROUS SNOW SHOWERS IN THE EVENING…THEN SCATTERED

SNOW SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH. LOWS

IN THE MID 20S TO LOWER 30S. VARIABLE WIND TO 10 MPH.

.FRIDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS IN THE MORNING…

THEN SCATTERED SNOW AND RAIN SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE

MID 30S TO LOWER 40S. LIGHT WINDS.

.FRIDAY NIGHT…NUMEROUS SNOW SHOWERS IN THE EVENING…THEN

SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S TO

LOWER 30S. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT NORTH 15 MPH NEAR SEWARD.

.SATURDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS IN THE

MORNING…THEN ISOLATED RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS IN THE

AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S TO LOWER 40S. LIGHT WINDS EXCEPT

NORTH 15 MPH NEAR SEWARD.

.SATURDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS. LOWS

15 TO 25.

.SUNDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW AND RAIN. HIGHS IN

THE 30S.

.SUNDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW. LOWS 15 TO

25.

TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION

SEWARD 38 29 40 / 70 60 60

GIRDWOOD 39 28 39 / 60 40 50

WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:

-3800′ Sunburst Wx Station-

Temperature 21. Light to moderate wind from the ENE.

-2600′ Seattle Ridge Wx Station-

24 degrees. Wind at 6-9mph from the SE.

-1800′ Center Ridge Wx Station-

27 degrees. No new snow measured as of 6am.

Thu, March 24th, 2011
Alpine
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
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This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.