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Sat, December 6th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Sun, December 7th, 2014 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW today in the alpine and treeline elevations.   Very shallow isolated pockets of wind slab, no greater than 6 € deep, could be encountered on very steep terrain features on leeward slopes today.

Below treeline a shallow snowpack combined with the potential for rain below 1,000′ does not warrant a danger rating for today.

Early season hazards such as rocks, stumps, and older glide cracks require cautious travel, especially at and below treeline.

Special Announcements

Upcoming FREE Avalanche Awareness talks from CNFAIC forecasters:

Tuesday Dec 9th at 6pm – REI Anchorage.   A few spots are left.   Visit the REI website to sign up.

Thursday Dec 11th at 6:30pm – Alaska Avalanche School in Anchorage.   Installment #2 of our Fireside Chat Series.   This evening’s topic will be “Avalanche Basics and Rescue Fundamentals”.

Sat, December 6th, 2014
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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

Over the past few weeks our field work has shown us that we do not have any persistent weak layers within the snowpack.  What this boils down to is the fact that any instability that you might encounter on a given day will be short lived.  This holds true today, as both precipitation and wind will not be enough to create new instability.

With that said, it is still important to pay attention to areas, mainly in the higher elevations, where winds could transport snow to create small isolated pockets of unstable snow.  Yesterday we found mostly stable snow in these suspect areas, with newly formed wind slabs averaging 4-6” in depth in upper elevation starting zones.  Slopes over 40 degrees in steepness with newly formed wind slabs will be the most likely place to find unstable snow today.  Pay attention in this type of terrain and do not assume that LOW danger is the same as ‘no’ danger.

Sat, December 6th, 2014

A well organized Low pressure system currently centered over the West end of the Aleutians will draw warm moist air up from the South as it moves towards the area.   As a result we should expect to see temperatures warming slightly today and through the weekend.  

Precipitation will be light today, with the rain/snow line hovering around 1,000′ and 1-2 € of new snow possible above 1,000′.   Ridge top winds will be out of the East at 5-15mph.   Temps at 1,000′ will be in the mid 30sF and ridge tops should see the thermometer approaching 30F.

Expect winds to increase heading into the evening hours through Sunday and temperatures to rise as a complex Low moves through the area.   We should see additional precipitation in the form of rain at sea level and snow in the higher elevations through the weekend.   The general pattern looks to remain unsettled and active for the next several days.

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 32  0  0 20
Summit Lake (1400′) 30  0  0 5
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 31  0  .02 18

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  25  E  17 52
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  27  N  14 37
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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.