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Sat, March 28th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Sun, March 29th, 2015 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW in many areas today.   MODERATE danger exists on steep slopes in both the Alpine and Treeline elevations.   Pockets of wind slabs up to 1′ thick in the Alpine could be triggered in terrain 40 degrees and over.   Loose snow avalanches will be possible on steep slopes.   These will be dry in the Alpine and wet in the Treeline elevations.   Cornices are also ripe and require careful travel today.

Special Announcements

There are only a few more days left to bid on some great artwork currently on display at Midnight Sun Brewery!   The White Out Gallery and 19 very talented and generous Alaskan artists have come together to host a month long art show and auction, as a fundraiser for the Alaska Avalanche School. The funds will go to the Know Before You Go youth education program and the Instructor Development Fund.   The auction will close this coming Wednesday and you can bid online or at the pub.

Sat, March 28th, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
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
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind 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

Moderate winds overnight that will continue today, combined with 5″ of new snow are enough to create pockets of fresh wind slab.  Slab thickness will vary from 6-12″.  Be on the lookout for recently formed slabs on the leeward side of ridges.  General wind direction will be out of the East but remember that wind direction in the mountains is influenced by terrain.  Snow that feels stiff, looks rounded or pillowy and produces shooting cracks should be avoided in steep terrain today.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Dry Loose
    Dry Loose
Dry Loose
Dry Loose avalanches are the release of dry unconsolidated snow and typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. These avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs.
More info at Avalanche.org

Natural and human triggered point release avalanches, also known as sluffs, will be possible on slopes over 40 degrees.  Volume will be low to moderate but increase on sustained steep slopes and in the lower elevations.  Sluffs will be dry above 2,000’ and gradually more damp with a decrease in elevation.  Brief periods of sunshine will increase the likelihood of loose snow avalanche activity today.

Rollerballs and shallow wet loose avalanches observed on Magnum yesterday.  More of the same can be expected in steep terrain today.

Magnum WL

Additional Concern
  • Cornice
Cornice Fall is the release of an overhanging mass of snow that forms as the wind moves snow over a sharp terrain feature, such as a ridge, and deposits snow on the downwind (leeward) side. Cornices range in size from small wind drifts of soft snow to large overhangs of hard snow that are 30 feet (10 meters) or taller. They can break off the terrain suddenly and pull back onto the ridge top and catch people by surprise even on the flat ground above the slope. Even small cornices can have enough mass to be destructive and deadly. Cornice Fall can entrain loose surface snow or trigger slab avalanches.
More info at Avalanche.org

Cornices have grown significantly over the last week.  Steer clear of cornices and always know where the cornice begins and the underlying terrain ends.  Pick routes on the way up that minimize time spent beneath these features. 

Sat, March 28th, 2015

Over the past 24 hours temps have been mild.   Snowfall and rain began overnight, with 5 €/.5 € of new (snow/H20) as of 6 am at the Center Ridge SNOTEL.   The Girdwood Valley received 2 €/.2 €.   Rain/snow line was around 500′. Ridgetop winds were out of the East averaging around 18 mph.

A broad area of low pressure to our South will spin and continue to pump light amounts of precipitation to the area today.   Another 2-3 € of snow can be expected.   Rain snow line will hover around the 1,800′ mark.   Winds will be out of the East at 15-30 mph.   Temperatures at 1,000′ will be in the mid 30s to low 40s F.

A continuation of unsettled weather will bring more of the same for the next several days.   Warm Southerly flow associated with low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska will keep temps mild and precipitation coming in small doses.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 31 5 .5 63
Summit Lake (1400′) 33 trace .1 11
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 34 2 .2 32

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 24 E 18 41
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 26 n/a 18 54
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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.