January 16, 2016

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Heightened avalanche conditions are expected in Chugach State Park Saturday: evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

There’s the potential for more dangerous avalanche conditions to develop by Sunday if winds increase late Saturday as forecast.  For Sunday;  safe backcountry travel may require more careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making.

For Saturday, the primary concerns will be low probability but high consequence persistent slab avalanches up to D2.5 in size.  These isolated, stubborn persistent slabs may exist in the upper elevations (above 2500′) primarily on typically leeward (northerly and westerly) terrain steeper than 35 degrees.  Another concern will be low-medium volume loose snow avalanches (or “sluffs“) on terrain steeper than 40 degrees.

For Sunday, the primary concern may shift to freshly formed wind slab avalanches above 2500′ on leeward (generally northerly and westerly) terrain – especially along lee ridgelines and cross-loaded gully sidewalls.  Touchy D2 wind slabs that may be reactive to human triggers are possible.  The concerns from Saturday will remain, with less emphasis on sluffing and more emphasis on lingering persistent slabs which may be further stressed by wind loading.