Haines Avalanche Center

Forecast as of 2019-01-17 at 08:00 am and expires on 2019-01-18

Above 2,500ftModerate

1,500 to 2,500ftLow

Below 1,500ftLow

Degrees of Avalanche Danger

Avalanche Problems

Problem Details

The last storm cycle ended January 1st. It featured strong SE winds, and 1-2.5" of SWE. It rained up to about 4000ft for a few hours at the end of the storm. We've been in deep freeze with arctic outflow (NW winds) ever since. We did have a freezing-rain event up to 3500ft in the Lutak zone last weekend, which added an icy layer at the snow surface.

Problem #1: Wind Slab:

Location: Specific slopes in the alpine above 2,000ft, where north/NW winds the last two weeks caused wind loading on lee aspects beneath ridgelines and terrain features. Recent reports found isolated areas of wind slab (3-8" thick) that are poorly bonded and easy to trigger. Be sure to dig around in high-alpine areas to assess for yourself how well-bonded the upper snowpack is. Variability will be high, so evaluate each slope carefully. Hand pits and slopes tests will be helpful in mapping out this potential danger. In large or steep terrain, slabs as thin a few inches can sweep you into dangerous situations. 

January 8th Snow pit from the Lutak zone, at 2700ft, N aspect. Notice fresh wind slabs in top 15cm (easy triggering), and hard triggering down 35cm.

Problem #2: Deep Slab:

Location: Chilkat Pass Zone, all aspects above 3,500ft. Avalanche Size: Large. Likelihood of Triggering: Unlikely.

We've had mixed reports of lingering weakness in an old facet layer about 80-100cm deep. These 2mm facets are sitting over a slick rain crust, and have produced isolated deep avalanches during storms over the last few weeks. In some areas (mainly lower elevations with deeper snowpack) this layer is not reactive, but we did get one report of easy triggering on this deep weak layer in snowpit tests from the north slopes of Mineral Mountain on January 3rd. The most likely way to trigger this layer will be from areas of thin snowpack, near rocks and ridgelines. Heavy triggers such as snowmachines, cornices, or hard cliff drops increase the odds of collapsing this weak layer. Remote triggering will be possible, so careful group management and wide spacing is essential. The best way to manage this danger is to plan for the unpredictable, and know where your safe zones are. Consider the consequences of a slab this deep ripping out before you commit to avalanche terrain.

Weather

Cold north winds and clear weather will start to give way to a pattern change beginning Saturday-Sunday, when light snow will move in and temperatures will begin to slowly warm up. General storminess should continue thereafter.

   Snow Depth [in] Last 24-hr Snow/SWE [in] Last 3-days Snow/SWE [in]  Today's Freezing Level [ft]  Today's Winds Next 24-hr Snow/SWE
Mount Ripinsky @ treeline
 41" 0" / 0.00  0" / 0.00  0 mod, N 0" / 0.00    *
Flower Mountain @ treeline
 41" 0" / 0.00  0" / 0.00  0 mod, NW 0" / 0.00     *
Chilkat Pass @ 3,100ft
 29" 0" / 0.00  0" / 0.00  0 lmod, NW 0" / 0.00   *

( *star means meteorological estimate )

Additional Information

If you get out riding, please send in an observation!

Do a rescue practice with your partners. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.

Practice good risk management, which means only expose one person at a time to slopes 30 degrees and steeper, make group communication and unanimous decision making a priority, and choose your terrain wisely: eliminating unnecessary exposure and planning out your safe zones and escape routes.