12/18- A large glide release was reported off Snowslide Gulch middle peak size 2.5.
12/15- Observed small natural avalanche on west aspect of Goodwills. Released below a cliff band at the bottom of a slope, 100′ wide. SS-N-D1-N
12/8- An observer witnessed a glide crack avalanche. SW aspect of peak 4690′ above the Valdez Glacier Lake. The debris reportedly ran all the way to the lake, with the deposition pile only feet away from a well used cross country ski trail.
12/21- North outflow winds up to 50 mph will continue through Saturday. Expect dangerous wind chill in Thompson Pass. Winds will slowly taper the night of the 21st and chances for snow will begin Sunday afternoon.
The Thompson Pass Mountain Forecast covers the mountains (above
1000 ft) surrounding Keystone Canyon through Thompson Pass to
This forecast is for use in snow safety activities and emergency
Temp at 1000` 14 F 1- 7 F
Temp at 3000` 11 F 5-11 F
Chance of precip 0% 0%
(above 1000 FT) 0.00 in 0.00 in
(above 1000 FT) 0 in trace
Snow level sea level sea level
Wind 3000` ridges NE 10-39 mph NE 12-36 mph
HN24W= total water received last 24 hours in inches
Continued north winds up to 50 mph are expected 12/21 for Thompson Pass. Wind slab has formed on lee aspects and will be sensitive. Human triggered avalanches are likely today on wind loaded slopes steeper than 30°. Only expose one person to a slope at a time and avoid slopes that are receiving active wind loading. Hazard is steady until winds abate.
With the first real cold snap of the season, the snowpack will begin to lose strength at the surface and below. Surface hoar up to 4 mm has been observed up to brushline on Thompson Pass. Much of this will likely be knocked down by wind, but not in protected areas where it will continue to grow with falling temperatures. Below 4,000′, we have two significant rain crusts in the top meter of the snowpack. These layers, which are currently strong, will begin to lose strength as they form facets. The amount of faceting will depend on the length of the cold snap. This will be an important factor for subsequent snowfalls.
On 12/20, found reactive wind slab on test slopes in the Mt. Dimond area. Wind slab was 6-18 inches deep and failed at the 12/9 rain crust. There is a lot of spatial variability with the 12/9 rain crust, as in some places it reaches only up to 3000′ and in others it is found up to 4500′. In this location, the rain crust was faceting and losing strength. Above 4000′, where there is no rain crust, there is more available snow for transport which means deeper wind slab.
The further north you go from Thompson Pass, expect thinner snowpacks. Triggering an avalanche on a persistent weak layer will be more likely in the continental zone.
If you have traveled in the mountains, please leave a public observation. The more info we can get from various locations will help us to get a clearer picture of the snowpack in our beautiful Valdez Chugach!
Forecast Confidence is Moderate.
Video taken 12/20 in the Mt. Dimond area showing reactive test slopes. https://vimeo.com/user106668057/review/380916811/02da5d1cc7
The avalanche hazard is considerable at mid and upper elevations. Human triggered avalanches are likely on wind loaded terrain that is steeper than 30°. Good indicators for windslab are a rapid increase in depth of the new snow over a short distance, and a hollow, drum-like feel. Shooting cracks will indicate unstable snow. Use caution in the mountains today, avoid areas that are receiving active wind loading and avoid terrain traps.
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