November 6, 2015

Early Season Update

Avalanche danger throughout Southcentral AK has increased due to strong winds (that, in general, picked up Wednesday evening), and varying accumulations of new snow Thursday and Friday.

Be on the lookout for the mountains’ signals of avalanche danger, if you’re headed into the alpine this weekend:

  1.  Recent avalanches
  2. “Whumphing” (collapsing of the snowpack)
  3. Shooting cracks (that emanate from your feet as you travel)
  4. Snow that is becoming wet and saturated from warming
  5. Slopes being actively loaded due to wind or falling snow

Do not expose yourself to snowy, steep terrain in the mountains if you do not know the fundamentals of avalanche hazard assessment!

Saturday looks to be a potentially great day in the mountains, with some sun and quiescent weather.  Be safe if you’re heading out to ride the slopes (or even just hiking in the high country).  Areas with the best riding conditions will likely be some of the more dangerous places, in terms of avalanche hazard.

Hatcher Pass had abundant loose snow available for transport Wednesday evening when wind speeds increased.  Hatcher has also been receiving minor accumulations of new snow.  Slopes were loaded Wednesday night through Thursday, and potentially dangerous wind slabs exist in the higher terrain of Hatcher Pass.

South of Anchorage, on the Chugach National Forest (i.e. Girdwood and Turnagain Pass), there has been the most new snow in addition to strong winds.  Loose snow and slab avalanche danger may exist in the alpine.

Chugach State Park, surrounding Anchorage, has received its fair share of wind but hasn’t received much snow (and didn’t have much to begin with).  Nonetheless, dangerous wind slabs are likely to exist on some wind loaded alpine terrain features.

Late this weekend, a quick but intense storm is expected to hit Southcentral and bring the next chance for significant new snow to most areas; avalanche danger is expected to again increase Sunday into Monday.

Check for statewide information