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Mon, February 2nd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Tue, February 3rd, 2015 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is generally LOW around the forecast area.   Pockets of MODERATE danger exist on steep previously wind loaded slopes.   It is in this terrain where it will be possible for humans to trigger old wind slabs 8-10 € in depth.

Yesterday skiers triggered a shallow slab avalanche around 2,400′ on an East aspect in the Seattle Creek drainage.   Fortunately both members of the party were not injured or buried.   Read HERE for more details, and see photo below.   This is a good reminder that LOW danger does not mean NO danger.   Pockets of unstable snow exist despite the generally unreactive nature of the snowpack around the forecast zone.

Special Announcements
Mon, February 2nd, 2015
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

With a lack of significant weather over the past 2 weeks, we have seen very little avalanche activity.  Triggering an avalanche is unlikely around much of the forecast area.  Exceptions to this can be found in the following forms:

Old wind slabs
Yesterday’s skier triggered avalanche shows us that it is possible to find pockets of unstable snow.  With only occasional slight bumps in the wind over the last week, slabs that have formed are few and far between.  Localized winds have formed shallow slabs that are sitting on weak snow.  In the mid elevations that weak snow is sitting on a crust, creating the perfect slab/weak layer/bed surface combo.  If venturing into big steep terrain be on the lookout for snow that is stiff or hollow sounding.

Photo below of an avalanche triggered by skiers while bootpacking on the lower flanks of Big Chief in upper Seattle Cr drainage.  2,400′ E facing slope.  100′ across, 200′ vertical. Photo: Billy Finley

Big Chief Skier triggered

Loose Snow Avalanches
Yesterday my partner and I were able to initiate very shallow sluffs in steep terrain.  The volume of these sluffs was very low and they were fast moving.  In sustained steep terrain pay attention to snow that releases from your feet, as it has the potential to knock you over.

With these issues in mind, it is important to avoid complacency by following safe travel protocol:
-Travel one at a time on suspect slopes
-Use islands of safety for spotting or re grouping
-Have an escape route planned prior to committing to a slope
-Communicate decisions and plans well with your partners
-Watch for other groups and avoid exposing yourself and others to avalanche hazard

Mon, February 2nd, 2015

Clear skies prevailed again yesterday.   Ridegtop temperatures were mild, in the low 30s F.   Some valley locations experienced an inversion where temperatures remained in the teens F through the day. Winds were generally light.   No new precipitation was recorded.

Today looks to be very similar as high pressure remains over the area.   Temperatures along ridgetops will be in the high 20s F.   Some valley locations will experience a steep inversion and will see temps in the single digits/teens F.   Winds will be light out of the West.  

The ridge of high pressure that is parked over much of the state will shift its position slightly this week, but not enough to bring about a change.   Temperatures will drop slightly later in the week as cold air moves in from the North.   Clear and dry conditions look to remain in place through the work week.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 28 0 0 31
Summit Lake (1400′) 13 0 0 7
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 26 0 0 21

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 33 E 5 15
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 31 var 4 17
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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.