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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Tue, March 25th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Expires
Wed, March 26th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

There is an overall LOW avalanche danger on all aspects and elevations this morning. Intense sun, little wind and slightly warmer temperatures may increase the danger to MODERATE in the afternoon on steep southerly facing slopes for wet point release avalanches and cornice failures.

Good travel habits remain important.   These include exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves or a cornice falls.

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Tue, March 25th, 2014
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.
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

Today will be our 9th day of high-and-dry weather conditions. This comes after a week-long onslaught brought up to 5′ of snow to many areas around Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Pass. Since then the snowpack has settled, weak layers have adjusted to the load, and mild weather have all contributed to stabilizing the snowpack.

How are the surface conditions? Well, variable. Northerly aspects have seen a fair amount of wind damage, yet amongst the hard wind slabs/crusts there is plenty of soft settled snow that can be found. Steeper slopes on southerly aspects have seen a melt-freeze regime, with sun crusts softening during the day. East and West are a bit of a combination. Slide-for-life conditions do exist out there and one party unfortunately found one of these areas Sunday. Check out their account HERE as well as the write up of a party that came on scene to help HERE. Thanks to these folks for writing in and we are glad all are ok!

Despite the unlikely event of triggering an avalanche, it is still possible to encounter the following:

Cornices:
This is the time of year (increased sun exposure and warm weather) that encourage cornice failure. Steering well clear of these from above and minimizing time below is recommended. There was a report the came in yesterday of a cornice fall that triggered a very large avalanche in Portage Valley – it is unclear when this event occurred but nonetheless, cornice falls are very serious and deserve respect when travelling in the mountains.

Wet Loose avalanches:
Steep terrain receiving intense sun should soften up by the afternoon. These steep southerly slopes hold the potential for wet point release avalanches or push-a-lanches (triggering a point release by pushing softened snow down a steep slope with a ski or boot/etc). Though they are likely to be low volume, if triggered in a long narrow chute they can entrain enough heavy snow to push you around and be a real concern. 

Old Wind Slabs and Persistent Slabs:
As with any travel in extreme and committing terrain, finding an old wind slab is always something to keep in mind.  Also, there are old weak layers of snow buried 2-5 feet deep – under the storm snow from mid-March. Although these weak layers have entered the dormant phase, it is still worth remembering for now.  It would take a very large trigger (large group of snowmachines or people) to possibly initiate an avalanche. Thin spots of the snowpack in very steep terrain would be the most likely place for an outlier event like this to occur. 

Weather
Tue, March 25th, 2014

Yesterday was yet another day of clear skies and mild weather. During the past 24-hours ridge top temperatures have averaged in the mid to upper 20’sF and winds have been light (~5mph) from the East with a slight bump to 10-15mph for an hour early this morning. Overnight, a healthy inversion has set in with single digit temperatures in valley bottoms while the ridge tops are reading between 23 and 27F.

Another beautiful sunny day is in store for today. Temperatures are looking to be a bit warmer than the past few days with highs on the ridge tops reaching the low 30’sF and at 1,000′ the low 40’sF. Winds are forecast to remain light from the East, blowing around 5mph.

It looks like this stubborn blocking high pressure is here to stay well into next week. The NWS is hinting at a possible pattern change next week but time will tell.  

Observations
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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.