Strong winds combined with 3-4" of new snow since 1/24 have created a CONSIDERABLE avalanche hazard for newly formed wind slabs at upper elevations, on Northwest to Northeast aspects, on slopes 35° and steeper.
Avoid slopes with terrain traps, as any size avalanche may be able to carry or wash a person into terrain traps, significantly compounding the hazard.
New snow may conceal a generally shallow snowpack. Be cautious of shallowly buried hazards, such as rocks.
PREVIOUS ADVISORIES AND UPDATES HERE
Problem 1: Wind Slab
Since 1/24 strong SE, S and SW winds, with gusts up to 54 mph, have transported snow and built new wind slabs. 3-4" of new snow acculated at 3000-3500' with more likely at upper elevations since 1/24, but accurate measurement of this new snow is difficult to judge as winds have effected weather station data. The thickness and scale of wind slabs will be limited as not much snow was available for transport.
Expect wind slabs, sitting on smooth surfaces and weak, sugary snow, to be likely to human trigger up to 4-10" thick, in specific locations, generally leeward to the winds, on NW to NE aspects, at upper elevations on slopes 35º and steeper. Some natural activity may be possible today at upper levations. At mid elevations this hazard is moderate, and at low elevation this hazard is Low. Likely terrain features containing wind slabs are along ridges, gully sidewalls, and in gaps and passes. Pay attention to cross loaded features and for the possibility of strong winds to have deposited wind slabs mid slope.
Shooting cracks, whumphing, and recent avalanche activity are bulls-eye clues for a sensitive wind slab avalanche problem. Pole and probe tests and hollow sounding snow may aid in identifying firm wind slabs sitting on weaker snow beneath.
Problem 2: Loose Dry
Loose dry, new snow sitting on widespread, old, firm, smooth surfaces will likely have produced some small natural activity over the last 24 hours. Natural activity is unlikely today. Human triggered, small, loose dry avalanches will be possible on all aspects, on slopes 40° and steeper today, in wind protected areas. At mid to upper elevations, in very isolated, wind protected locations, new snow will be sitting on up to a foot and a half of loose, weak, sugary snow. Triggering a lose dry avalanche under these conditions will entrain older, sugary snow and result in fast moving sluffs with more volume. Loose dry avalanches will generally be on the small side, but may have the ability to carry a person into secondary hazards, such as terrain traps, compounding the hazard.
No new avalanche activity has been observed or reported this week.
Strong winds combined with new snow may have triggered some natural wind slab and loose dry avalanches over the last 24 hours, but no reports are available as of this morning.
This week’s weather at 3550′:
Temps averaged 25ºF, with a low of 11ºF and a high of 36ºF.
3-4" of new snow accumulated from 1/24 through this morning. Accurate measurements of recent precipitation totals are difficult to judge as strong winds have been scouring and loading weather station instruments since 1/24.
Overnight at 3550′:
Temps averaged 25°F.
No new snow.
This week’s weather at 4500′:
Temps averaged 22ºF, with a low of 9ºF and a high of 29ºF.
Winds averaged SE 11 mph, max 42 mph . Gusts averaged SE 11 mph, max gust SSE 56 mph.
Overnight at 4500′:
Temps averaged 18ºF overnight, with a Low of 16ºF.
Winds averaged SW 6 mph overnight. Max gust SSW 34 mph.
Marmot winds since 1/24:
NWS Rec Forecast HERE
NWS point forecast HERE
State Parks Snow Report and Motorized Access information HERE
The avalanche hazard, for wind slabs in particular, will remain the same through today and begin to improve tomorrow as the snowpack has a chance to adjust to new loads.
The NWS Hatcher Pass recreational weather forecast for today:
Temp at 1000` 31 F 24 F
Temp at 3000` 21 F 26 F
Chance of precip 60% 20%
(above 1000 FT) 0.07 in 0.01 in
(above 1000 FT) 0-1 in trace
Snow level sea level sea level
Wind 3000` ridges SE 9-18 mph SE 8-15 mph
Save the date: HPAC Annual Fundraiser and Cabin Fever Reliever, Saturday,February 2, 2019 at the Moose Lodge in Palmer. Tickets available now for $20 HERE or cash only at Backcountry Bike and Ski and Active Soles in Palmer. $25 at the door.
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