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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Wed, March 30th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, March 31st, 2011 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Jon Gellings
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning backcountry travelers. This is Jon Gellings with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, March 30th 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

The avalanche danger will remain at CONSIDERABLE today, but will begin to decrease throughout the day. Only 3” of new snow has fallen at Center Ridge in the past 24 hrs, but the station is recording .8” SWE, which means rain has been saturating the surface snow at and above this elevation. Natural avalanches could still come down, and it is likely that someone would be able to kick off a slab in steeper terrain.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION

With the cloud layer being obscure and at a low elevation yesterday, we were unable to observe any new avalanches, which does not mean they aren’t out there. The wind loading process has simmered down, and precipitation is slowing down as well. I am able to see Penguin Ridge right now, so hopefully we can get a look around today to see what the extent of new avalanches is.

We currently have a few layers of persistent weak layers buried underneath this new snow. Surface hoar and small facets are buried above a very hard layer of wind affected snow from last month, and are the newest layers of concern. There was a report of whumpf sounds at tree line on Tincan yesterday, which means one of these layers was reactive to the weight of a skier. With around 3-4 feet of new snow on these layers at upper elevations, be sure to scrutinize the snowpack for instabilities before making any type of commitment to steep terrain. An avalanche of this depth could easily ruin someone’s day.

So, backing up and looking at the big picture, we have a hard layer (bed surface), underneath surface hoar and facets (weak layers), all of which is below a layer of moist and/or wind deposited snow (slab). These textbook signs for potential avalanches exist in the vicinity of Turnagain Pass.

Many areas in South Central Alaska with a shallow snowpack contain persistent instabilities deeper down, which could potentially break under the weight of a recreationist. Staying away from likely trigger points or thin areas is the easiest way to avoid this hazard.

Encyclopedia of avalanche terms.

WEATHER ROUNDUP

Winds have slowed down, which should limit the amount of snow being loaded onto leeward terrain. Temperatures got well above freezing at Center Ridge, and are forecast to do so again today. We could still see some more precipitation from this storm, but the majority has already fallen. Anything new today should be confined to a few inches of snow at upper elevations.

Kevin 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 WED MAR 30 2011

.TODAY…RAIN…MIXED AT TIMES WITH SNOW. NO SNOW ACCUMULATION.

HIGHS AROUND 40. VARIABLE WIND TO 10 MPH. NORTH TO EAST WINDS 10 TO

20 MPH.

.TONIGHT…RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW ACCUMULATION AROUND 1

INCH. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S TO MID 30S. NORTH TO WEST WINDS 5 TO

15 MPH.

.THURSDAY…SNOW AND RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE MORNING…THEN A

CHANCE OF RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON. SNOW ACCUMULATION

UP TO 1 INCH. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 30S TO MID 40S. VARIABLE WIND TO 10

MPH. NEAR SEWARD…NORTH WIND 10 MPH.

TEMPERATURE / PRECIPITATION

SEWARD 43 31 43 / 80 60 60

GIRDWOOD 42 23 40 / 80 50 60

WEATHER STATION SUMMARY for Turnagain Pass:

-3800′ Sunburst Wx Station-

25 degrees. ENE wind 10mph gusting to 17mph.

-2600′ Seattle Ridge Wx Station-

28 degrees. SE wind 7mph gusting to 9mph.

-1800′ Center Ridge Wx Station-

30 degrees. 3 inches new snow. Storm total snowfall is 12-13 inches.

Wed, March 30th, 2011
Alpine
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
3 - Considerable
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.