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Thu, December 20th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Fri, December 21st, 2012 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The hazard remains MODERATE above treeline.   Steep upper elevation starting zones are of most concern.   While it is getting more difficult to trigger avalanches the possibility still remains.   Below treeline the snowpack continues to get more and more rotten where the hazard is LOW today.

Thu, December 20th, 2012
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
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.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

It has been 4 days since a human triggered avalanche has been reported in the backcountry.  Yesterday my partner and I had a hard time finding snow that was reactive to our ski cuts and stability tests in our snowpits.  However, the snowpack in higher elevation starting zones continues to harbor a very weak base.  The slabs that are sitting on this base have been deteriorating over the past week of clear and cold weather.  As a result these slabs are becoming less reactive to the weight of a person or snowmachine.  Keep in mind that the distribution of this slab varies widely as you move around the mountains; in some places the slab is non existent and in others it is fully intact.  It is those areas with an intact slab that are of greatest concern.  While it is getting more difficult to find these areas they are still out there and warrant an accurate assessment.  Tracks on a slope do not guarantee that the snow is stable.

Thu, December 20th, 2012

Clear, cool and dry weather will dominate our area today.   Ridgetop winds will gust into the 20s and temps will warm to the teens.  
Our next chance for precip looks to be early next week at best.   Keep your fingers crossed!

We would like to extend a special thanks to everyone who came out to support our avalanche center last night.   Thank you to Wild Alpine, Alyeska Resort and the Friends of the CNFAIC for hosting this event.   We here at the CNFAIC are excited to continue to deliver the info you need to make good decisions out in the backcountry!

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).  

Wendy will issue the next advisory Friday morning, December 21st.  

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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.