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Fri, January 23rd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Sat, January 24th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Today the avalanche danger is mostly LOW with potential for pockets of MODERATE danger in the alpine, above 2500′. Small shallow wind slabs 4-8 € are possible on steep leeward features along ridgetops, as well as soft storm slabs up to 4 € thick at mid elevations.

The avalanche danger below 2500′ will remain LOW today. Caution is advised below 1500′ where a very thin layer of snow is coveraging rocks, ice, and roots.  

Special Announcements

Tonight the APU Outdoor Studies Department and Alaska Avalanche School present  Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival!! This is an AAS and F-CNFAIC fundraiser – a great way to support local avalanche education and information. Hope to see you there!

Fri, January 23rd, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.
More info at Avalanche.org

Today is all about what the weather might do. Snow has been the talk of Southcentral Alaska over the last few days, but unfortunately Girdwood and Turnagain have only received a trace of new snow. It looks like today might be more of the same as most of the precipitation tracks up Cook Inlet. There remains a chance of snow (2-4”) at higher elevations and freezing rain at sea level. Rain/snow line could be as high as 1000’ today.


Wind slabs

Ridgetop winds are expected to be moderate (15-25mph) from the Northeast, just enough to form small isolated wind slabs on leeward features in the alpine. Currently 2-6” of low-density snow is available for transport, and if we see up to 4” of new snow, small shallow slabs (4-8”) are possible on steep leeward features at higher elevations. Heighten awareness is advised in steep terrain where smooth pillow-like windslabs could be lurking. 


Storm slabs

Pay attention to how the snow changes throughout the day and be on the lookout for small isolated soft slabs on steep features at mid elevations. We currently have a weak interface where 2-4” of poorly bonded old snow is sitting on a melt/freeze crust. Today temperatures will be in the high 20’sF to low 30’sF at mid elevations (2500-3000′,) and if we see snow today soft storm slabs (4” deep) are possible. Luckily this is a low consequence hazard, but still warrants caution on large steep terrain features above 35°. 

Additional Concern
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Early seaon hazards do exist at lower elevations where rocks, branches, and frozen ice are barely covered by a trace of new snow and surface hoar at elevations below 1500′. Use caution today at this elevation band where these harzards may become less visible if we do recieve more snow. 


Photo taken Jan.22, 2015 at 1200′ on the East side of Seattle Ridge uptrack. 


Fri, January 23rd, 2015

Yesterday a trace of new snow was observed, just under an inch in Turnagain Pass and Girdwood. Ridgetop winds were moderate at times ­ ­ ­ ­, 10-25mph, mostly from the East and Northeast. Temperatures stayed cool at sea level (teens to mid 20’sF.)

Today a low-pressure system has positioned itself nicely to deliver snow to Western Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska Valley. Above 1000′ Girdwood and Turnagain Pass may see 2-4 € of snow today. Ridgetop winds will be moderate from the Northeast 15-25mph. Temps are expected to climb into the low 30’sF with rain/snowline around 1000′. A freezing rain advisory has been issued for roadways along Turnagain Arm until 3pm.

 3-5 € of snow is forecasted for this evening with an additional 2 € overnight. Winds look like they will be light to moderate (10-20mph) from the Northeast. Temperatures are expected to cool slightly (mid to high 20’sF) increasing the potential for snow at sea level.  

*Image below is screenshot at 6:41am of the the current snow storm tracking up Cook Inlet – not currently looking good for precip in Girdwood/Turnagain area.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 27   trace   .05   30  
Summit Lake (1400′) 21   0.1   1   7  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 26   .12   1   19  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 24   E   12   29  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25   Var.   13   33  
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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.