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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Mon, March 3rd, 2014 - 7:00AM
Tue, March 4th, 2014 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is LOW above and below treeline.   A steady melt freeze cycle continues today.   A crust on the surface up to ridge top level exists throughout the forecast area.   Sunlit aspects will see a small degree of melting.   It will take direct sun and a lack of wind to soften these slopes.   Very small wet loose avalanches are still a possibility on very steep sunlit slopes today.   If triggered, they will be small, predictable and easy to avoid.

LOW hazard does not mean NO hazard.   While avalanche activity is unlikely today, it is important to always use good travel practices.

Mon, March 3rd, 2014
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

It has been almost 2 weeks since the last measurable snowfall covered the mountains around the forecast zone.  The last loading event was on Feb 23rd (as a result of high winds).  On this day we had reports of a few slab avalanches as a direct result of sensitive slabs being built by high winds.  Over the last 5 days we have had a consistent melt freeze cycle.  This cycle initially produced a round of wet loose and a few slab avalanches. 

Another solid freeze overnight will keep the surface snow firm for most of the day.  Very steep south facing slopes will likely see some melting today.  Because of this it will be important to pay attention to the snow surface as it melts.  Very small wet loose avalanches will be possible today in this terrain.

Other hazards to consider today are:

Cornices.  Give cornices a wide berth both above and below.  Sunshine coupled with a lack of wind will aid in destabilizing these features.

Persistent slabs in steep high elevation terrain on the periphery of the forecast zone and in outlying areas.  Melt freeze and sun crusts exist on all surfaces up to most ridgelines and summits.   Above 4,000’ (which is a small percentage of the terrain in the advisory area) it will be possible to find dry surface snow.  1-3’ below the surface is a weak layer of facets sitting on the January crust.  This layer has not been reactive of late but still exists.  It will be remotely possible to trigger an avalanche in very steep terrain that has not been subject to this recent melt freeze cycle.

LOW hazard does not mean NO hazard.  It is important to continue to practice good travel habits; expose only one person at a time on steep terrain, avoid cornices, communicate your decisions & plans, and carry and know how to use rescue gear.

Mon, March 3rd, 2014

It has now been 13 days since snow has fallen at the Center Ridge SNOTEL site.   Temps over the past 24 hours averaged 31 degrees F at the Sunburst weather station.   Winds there have been light out of the West at 5mph with a max gust of 12mph.

Today expect one more day of clear skies and spring like weather.   Temps at 1,000′ will climb back into the low 30s F.   Winds will remain very light.

A slight chance for snow showers to develop overnight exists.   Snowfall will become more likely later in the day Tuesday into Wednesday.   Expect an unsettled pattern throughout the week with generally weak Low pressure systems moving through the region.

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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.