Valdez Avalanche Forecasts

Wednesday-Saturday 2/22-25

Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 8AM

Expires: Sat, Feb 25, 2017

Remember: Low danger does not mean no danger.

As winds have picked up, expect new windslabs drifted onto northerly slopes by southerly onshore winds. These are very easily forming on top of widespread surface hoar and near surface facets from our long clear, cold spell.

ALWAYS use safe travel techniques to your advantage, even when feeling confident about the conditions. Only expose one person at a time to terrain features that could avalanche.

Above 3,000ft Low

1,500 to 3,000ft Low

Below 1,500ft Low

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

1. Low
2. Moderate
3. Considerable
4. High
5. Extreme

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details

WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY & SATURDAY

DANGER SCALE

 

WIND SLAB:
Elevation:   Above 3000″
Aspect:  Various aspects due to shifting winds
Terrain:   Near ridges, gullies, rollovers
Sensitivity:   Responsive
Distribution:   Specific
Likelihood (Human Triggered):   Possible
Size:   Small – Large
Danger Trend:   Steady
Forecaster Confidence:   Fair

AVALANCHE PROBLEM SCALE DESCRIPTORS:
Sensitivity: Non-reactive, Stubborn, Responsive, Touchy
Distribution: Isolated, Specific, Widespread
Likelihood: Unlikely, Possible, Likely, Nearly Certain
Size: Small, Large, Very Large (size scale <here>)
Danger Trend: Increasing, Steady, Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence: Good, Fair, Poor

AVALANCHE PROBLEM TOOLBOX <here>

SNOWPACK DISCUSSION:

Maritime (Coastal) Specific: 

A foot plus of dry snow is resting on mid February’s rain crust which feels much deeper as you elevate yourself above the rain line ~2600′. A recent uptick in winds have started to drift and move the snow around more, especially on higher, exposed ridgelines. A generally stable snowpack could shift as winds form new slabs throughout the zone.

Over the long calm, clear and cold spell, widespread surface hoar and near surface facets formed throughout our region. As new snow falls and winds pick up, investigate how these weak crystals are reacting once they get buried. Evaluate and test readily, for these crystals can persist and lead to problems for extended periods of time….leading to unpredictable and large avalanches.

As the sun rises ever higher above the horizon and hits previously shadowed terrain, consider the effects of solar radiation on southerly slopes. A slight change in slope angle in relation to the sun can impact the snowpack’s response dramatically. One can witness that the lower elevation steep southerlies above town and the airport are warming and shedding due to the burning orb’s influence.

Find more photos and observations at the bottom of the page. Sharing your observations creates an informed community that everyone benefits from at some point.

Recent Avalanche Activity

Maritime (Coastal) Specific: 

  • 2/13-14: Numerous wet avalanches below the rain line (+-3000′) around the Port.
  • 2/18: Natural sluff avalanches (loose snow) observed on sunny south facing aspects from solar radiation.

Recent Weather

WEATHER FORECAST for NEXT 24 HRS at 3,000 ft:
Temperature Forecast (Min/Max *F):  10 / 22
Ridgetop Wind Forecast (direction/mph):  Var / 5-20
Snowfall (in/water equivalent):  1-3″ / 0.14″
WIND & TEMPERATURE
PAST 24 hours
Ferry Terminal Thompson Pass
Average Wind Speed (mph) / Direction  6 / NE  32? / NE
Max Wind Gust (mph) / Direction  15 / ENE  38? / NE
Temperature Min / Max (*F)  16 / 24  0? / 2?

Weather Forecast:    As a low moves across the gulf west to east, expect at most a handful of inches of snow into the early afternoon. The slightly warmer temperatures and southerly gusts will back down as the skies clear and winds return from the north. Expect mostly clear skies Thursday and building clouds Friday prior to some light precipitation Friday afternoon/evening.

Additional Info & Media

SNOW HISTORY: Valdez 2/22 AM Thompson Pass 2/22 AM
24 Hour Snow / Water Equiv. Trace/0.01″ Trace /0.01″
Storm Snow /Water Equiv. (2/17-2/18) 3.1” /0.2″ 3″ /0.3″
Current Snow Depth 51″ 48″
February Snow / Water Equiv. 44.2″ /4.5″ 42″ / 5.0″
Total Winter Snowfall / Water Equiv. 222.2″ /20.4” 281″ / 27.6″
Snowload in Valdez 78 lbs/sq. ft.

 

SNOWFALL at OTHER STATIONS:
LAST 24 HRS (2/22 AM)/STORM TOTAL (2/22)/STORM WATER EQUIV.:
Nicks Valley at 4200 ft (in): 0″ / 0″ / 0″
Upper Tsaina at 1750 ft (in): 0″ / 0″ / 0″
Sugarloaf at 550 ft (in): Trace/ 0″ / 0″
SNOW DEPTH & WATER SURVEY (2/1/2017) Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Milepost 2.5 Valdez  41.5″  9.8″
Milepost 18 43.9″ 9.5″
Milepost 29 Worthington Flats 61.5″ 16″
Milepost 37 Tsaina River bridge 42.1″ 9.3″
This survey is done the first week of each month.

Weather Quicklinks:

  • NWS forecast for Northeast Prince William Sound <here>
  • NOAA NWS spot forecast for Thompson Pass <here>
  • Thompson Pass RWIS weather station <here>
  • MP 30 Nicks (Happy) Valley weather station at 4200 feet <here> (scroll to Nicks Valley)
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>
  • Further weather resources <here>

SNOW CLIMATE ZONES:

  • coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal) – from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  • intermountain-zone-iconInter-mountain (Transitional) – between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  • interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior) – the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).

Photo of Thompson Pass

thompson-pass-ski-runs

Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)

climate-zones-topoclimate-zones-satellitegoogle-earth1

Run Map of Thompson Pass Area (Sean Wisner) (2MB download)
VAC Run Map Thompson Pass

NEWS: Our region is “one of the snowiest places on earth” – Serendipity / Rendezvous snowfall record set in 1963 <here>.

Free smart phone avalanche forecasts at: http://www.avalancheforecasts.com/

Posted in Maritime Forecasts.

Wednesday-Saturday 2/22-25

Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 8AM

Expires: Sat, Feb 25, 2017

Remember: Low danger does not mean no danger.

As winds have picked up, expect new windslabs drifted onto northerly slopes by southerly onshore winds. These are very easily forming on top of widespread surface hoar and near surface facets from our long clear, cold spell.

ALWAYS use safe travel techniques to your advantage, even when feeling confident about the conditions. Only expose one person at a time to terrain features that could avalanche.

Above 3,000ft Low

1,500 to 3,000ft Low

Below 1,500ft Low

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

1. Low
2. Moderate
3. Considerable
4. High
5. Extreme

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details

WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY & SATURDAY

DANGER SCALE

 

 

WIND SLAB:
Elevation:   
Above 3000′
Aspect:
   Various aspects due to shifting winds
Terrain:
 Near ridgelines, rollovers, and gully walls
Sensitivity:
 Responsive
Distribution:
 Specific
Likelihood (Human Triggered):
  Possible
Size:
 Small – Large
Danger Trend:
 Steady
Forecaster Confidence:
  Fair

AVALANCHE PROBLEM SCALE DESCRIPTORS:
Sensitivity: Non-reactive, Stubborn, Responsive, Touchy
Distribution: Isolated, Specific, Widespread
Likelihood: Unlikely, Possible, Likely, Nearly Certain
Size: Small, Large, Very Large (size scale <here>)
Danger Trend: Increasing, Steady, Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence: Good, Fair, Poor

AVALANCHE PROBLEM TOOLBOX <here>

SNOWPACK DISCUSSION:

intermountain-zone-iconInter-Mountain (Transitional) Specific: 

30″ of heavy snow, mixed with rain below ~3000′, fell around the Thompson Pass region last week. A widespread avalanche cycle occurred during this storm, flushing out any persistent weak layers deeper in the snow pack. Make a mental note of where these large avalanches occurred, for areas that didn’t slide could still harbor problems.

Over the long calm, clear and cold spell, widespread surface hoar and near surface facets formed throughout our region. As new snow falls and winds pick up, investigate how these weak crystals are reacting once they get buried. Evaluate and test readily, for these crystals can persist and lead to problems for extended periods of time….leading to unpredictable and large avalanches.

Find more photos and observations at the bottom of the page. Sharing your observations creates an informed community that everyone benefits from at some point.

Recent Avalanche Activity

intermountain-zone-iconInter-Mountain (Transitional) Specific:  

Observed Feb. 18:

  • Numerous large(D3+) Wet Slab avalanches ran during the storm last week in the Tsania Valley that hit the valley floor
  • Natural Sluffs (Loose Snow) Observed on North Aspects in the Tsania Valley(before the glacier), while no natural activity was observed in the Tonsina Glacier area

Observed Feb 16:

  • Many mid storm avalanches released up to D2.5 off of steep faces: Several on north face of Odyssey, School Bus, Vertigo, Snatch, 40.5 Mile Ridge/Wilburs

Below Vertigo, crown filled in similar to Snatch and School Bus.

School Bus and North Odyssey Gully debris.

  • Extensive shallow slab releases on mid+ elevation southerly aspects below Bald Boy to Hippy Ridge (MP 29-37): seemed to be pulling out on persistent weaknesses: likely surface hoar or near surface facets formed last week.

Below Baldy & Little Girls

Thin crowns at MP 33

Hippy Ridge: Widespread mid-elevation activity…weak layer likey recently buried surface hoar or facets. Upper elevations had blown back in.

  • Large deeper avalanche releases on basal weaknesses at the ground below Max Low and Wilbur’s on 40.5 Mile Ridge

Max Low released at rocks. Pit dug on Feb 8 right next to this crown.

Wilburs: lower central slab was deeper and looked like it pulled out to rocks.

Reported Feb.13-15 during the storm:

  • Large avalanches at Milepost 38, 42, and 50

Recent Weather

See Maritime Zone for updated weather.

Additional Info & Media

Weather Quicklinks:

  • NWS forecast for Northeast Prince William Sound <here>
  • NOAA NWS spot forecast for Thompson Pass <here>
  • Thompson Pass RWIS weather station <here>
  • MP 30 Nicks (Happy) Valley weather station at 4200 feet <here> (scroll to Nicks Valley)
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>
  • Further weather resources <here>

SNOW CLIMATE ZONES:

  • coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal) – from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  • intermountain-zone-iconInter-mountain (Transitional) – between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  • interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior) – the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).

Photo of Thompson Pass

thompson-pass-ski-runs

Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)

climate-zones-topoclimate-zones-satellitegoogle-earth1

Run Map of Thompson Pass Area (Sean Wisner) (2MB download)
VAC Run Map Thompson Pass

NEWS: Our region is “one of the snowiest places on earth” – Serendipity / Rendezvous snowfall record set in 1963 <here>.

Free smart phone avalanche forecasts at: http://www.avalancheforecasts.com/

Posted in Intermountain Forecasts.

Wednesday-Saturday 2/22-25

Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 9AM

Expires: Sat, Feb 25, 2017

The snowpack in the interior is thinner and weaker than the other zones. Take the time to investigate for weak sugar snow (facets) under new, firmer slabs. Where this combination is found, the whole snowpack has the potential to release dramatically to ground.

As winds have picked up, expect new windslabs drifted onto northerly slopes by southerly onshore winds. These are very easily forming on top of widespread surface hoar and near surface facets from our long clear, cold spell.

ALWAYS use safe travel techniques to your advantage, even when feeling confident about the conditions. Only expose one person at a time to terrain features that could avalanche.

Above 3,000ft Moderate

1,500 to 3,000ft Low

Below 1,500ft Low

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

1. Low
2. Moderate
3. Considerable
4. High
5. Extreme

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details

WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY & SATURDAY

DANGER SCALE

 

WIND SLAB:
Elevation:
  Above 3000′
Aspect:
   Variable with shifting winds
Terrain:
  Near ridgelines, rollovers, and gully walls
Sensitivity:
  Responsive
Distribution:
Specific
Likelihood (Human Triggered):
  Possible
Size:
Small – Large
Danger Trend:
  Steady
Forecaster Confidence:
  Fair

PERSISTENT SLAB:
Elevation:
  All
Aspect:
  All
Terrain:
Most
Sensitivity:
  Non-reactive
Distribution:
  Widespread
Likelihood (Human Triggered):
  Unlikely
Size:
  Small – Large
Danger Trend:
  Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence:
  Poor

AVALANCHE PROBLEM SCALE DESCRIPTORS:
Sensitivity: Non-reactive, Stubborn, Responsive, Touchy
Distribution: Isolated, Specific, Widespread
Likelihood: Unlikely, Possible, Likely, Nearly Certain
Size: Small, Large, Very Large (size scale <here>)
Danger Trend: Increasing, Steady, Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence: Good, Fair, Poor

AVALANCHE PROBLEM TOOLBOX <here>

SNOWPACK DISCUSSION:

Continental (Interior) Specific: 

Four feet of new snow reported at 56 mile last week with rain falling up to ~2800′ on this new snow since then.

The upper elevations have limited observations but the chance of sugar snow (persistent slab) lurking in the mountains of the interior is likely.  If you find this sugar snow buried under firmer layers, be aware that everything above that could potentially release, even if the sugar snow is at the ground. Persistent slabs are the hardest kind of avalanches to predict -> The likely hood is low, but the consequences are always high.

Over the long calm, clear and cold spell, widespread surface hoar and near surface facets formed throughout our region. As new snow falls and winds pick up, investigate how these weak crystals are reacting once they get buried. Evaluate and test readily, for these crystals can persist and lead to problems for extended periods of time….leading to unpredictable and large avalanches.

Find more photos and observations at the bottom of the page. Sharing your observations creates an informed community that everyone benefits from at some point.

Recent Avalanche Activity

Continental (Interior) Specific: 

2/18 Observations:

  • 4′ of new snow reported at 56 mile last week below timberline, rain has fallen on this new snow.
  • No slab avalanches have been observed as of 2/18 above timberline, but VERY limited observations have been made.
  • Rain fell above timberline all the way through Pump Station 12 and into Kenny Lake (last week)

Recent Weather

See Maritime Zone for updated weather.

Additional Info & Media

Weather Quicklinks:

  • NWS forecast for Northeast Prince William Sound <here>
  • NOAA NWS spot forecast for Thompson Pass <here>
  • Thompson Pass RWIS weather station <here>
  • MP 30 Nicks (Happy) Valley weather station at 4200 feet <here> (scroll to Nicks Valley)
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>
  • Further weather resources <here>

SNOW CLIMATE ZONES:

  • coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal) – from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  • intermountain-zone-iconInter-mountain (Transitional) – between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  • interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior) – the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).

Photo of Thompson Pass

thompson-pass-ski-runs

Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)

climate-zones-topoclimate-zones-satellitegoogle-earth1

Run Map of Thompson Pass Area (Sean Wisner) (2MB download)
VAC Run Map Thompson Pass

NEWS: Our region is “one of the snowiest places on earth” – Serendipity / Rendezvous snowfall record set in 1963 <here>.

Free smart phone avalanche forecasts at: http://www.avalancheforecasts.com/

Posted in Continental Forecasts.

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