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Fri, March 17th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 18th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A LOW  avalanche danger remains in the backcountry  at all elevations. Although triggering an avalanche is unlikely, it is not impossible on steep wind loaded features and in extreme terrain.  Be aware of old hard wind slabs and fast moving €˜sluff’ in steep terrain where getting knocked over could have high consequences. Cornices and glide cracks exist in some areas and limiting exposure under these is recommended.

Good travel habits remain important, even during ‘green light conditions’. This includes 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.  

Summit Lake, South of Johnson Pass and North (in parts of the Girdwood Valley):  A reminder that the snowpack remains thinner in these areas with a poor structure. There is still a chance for triggering an avalanche deeper in the snowpack in these areas. Read the Saturday Summit Summary  HERE  and an observation from Fresno Ridge  HERE.

Special Announcements

Consider showing your support for public avalanche centers when applying for your 2017 PFD!!  Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center is an  official  Pick. Click. Give. organization!

Fri, March 17th, 2017
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A small pot of gold was found yesterday in the Spencer Glacier area where a few inches of snow fell early yesterday morning. For the rest of our region surface conditions are made up primarily of thin crusts, hard wind board on ridges and near surface facets (recycled powder) in areas sheltered from the recent winds. Although the avalanche danger is LOW, there are a handful of avalanche problems that could catch you off guard in dangerous terrain. Be aware of the following:

Wind Slabs:  In places that received a few inches of snow yesterday watch for blowing snow and shooting cracks where newly formed shallow wind slabs could be tender today. Older, stiffer wind slabs such as the one triggered on Seattle ridge last weekend will be less likely to trigger by a skier or snowmachiner. Smooth pillowed snow on steep unsupported features or in rocky areas will be the most suspect places to initiate an old wind slab.  

Loose Snow Avalanches (Sluffs): Dry sluffs on steep slopes are probable and have been fast moving this week.  Keep terrain choices and potential consequences in mind when managing sluff.

Glide Avalanches: Glide cracks continue to slowly open above popular terrain on Seattle Ridge and in other zones across the advisory area. These may release at any time.  Minimize exposure time spent under visible cracks.

Cornices: Cornices should always be given an extra wide berth if travelling along a corniced ridge.  Like glide cracks, minimize your exposure time spent under these backcountry bombs. 

Persistent Slabs and Deep Slabs: There are various weak layers in our thin snowpack. Buried surface hoar sits 1-3+’ below the surface and faceted snow sits in the mid and base of the pack. Given plenty of time and a lack of changing weather, these weak layers (with varying degrees of strength) are in a ‘dormant stage’.  Although unlikely, an avalanche breaking deeper in the pack isn’t completely out of the question in areas such as Johnson Pass, Lynx Creek and in parts of Girdwood Valley (especially around Crow Pass).  A cornice fall or glide crack release could also be a large enough trigger to wake up one of these persistent slabs.  

Skier triggered sluff on the South Face of Sunburst.


“This is a video re-cap of the last month or so of weather in Alaska as seen from the GOES satellite imaging system. If you watch carefully you might actually be able to see our snowpack blowing into the Gulf…” Thanks Tobey Carmen for the timelapse.

Fri, March 17th, 2017

Yesterday morning skies were cloudy becoming clear and sunny by early afternoon. A few inches of snow fell near Spencer Glacier with only a few flakes spotted in the rest of our forecast zone. Daily warming increased from the single digits F into the low 20F’s mid day. Ridge top winds were light (5-10mph) from the North. Overnight temps near sea level dropped back into the single digits F.  

Another clear and sunny day is in our future. Day time warming may reach the mid 20F’s this afternoon. Night time temperatures should drop back into the single digits F.  Ridge top winds, 5-15mph from the Northwest are expected to reach their peak by mid-day. No precipitation is expected.  

Cold and clear weather is expected throughout the weekend as high pressure continues to persist over mainland, Alaska. A series of fronts moving through the Gulf may bring light snow showers to coastal areas by Sunday, but no measurable amount of precipitation is expected. This pattern is expected through mid week.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 9    0 0   59  
Summit Lake (1400′) 7   0   0   29  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 11   0   0   56  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 13   N   3   10  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 7   N   6   16  
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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.