Snowfall has returned to our area and temperatures are slowly climbing. In the last 24 hours, 11 inches of snowfall has been reported at Thompson Pass and 8 inches at Nicks. This new snow is falling on surface hoar in specific locations, including areas north of Thompson Pass between 2-4000′ and up to ridge lines in some locations. This avalanche problem may initially be tricky to assess due to the distribution of the faceted old snow that the new snow is falling on. In some areas before the storm surface hoar was found to be widespread, in other areas it was noted that windward aspects of terrain features facets were knocked over while on leeward aspects they still stood proud. Then there is also the case where the SH wasn’t noted at all. The distribution of this layer will make the difference in surface stability. Surface Hoar has not been reported south of Thompson Pass.
Good stability may be experienced in areas were poor stability may exist in close proximity. Watch for signs of instability and use terrain progression as you move out into the mountains after this storm.
Don’t assume that the 24 hour rule will apply to this set up that we have. It is very likely that we are going to have persistent slab issues in the near future in specific locations.
Storm snow avalanches may step down to deeper layers in the snowpack north of Thompson Pass. At this point that scenario is unlikely but would have big consequences due to the depth of these layers. As storm slabs get bigger with additional snow accumulations through the week this may become more of a concern.
12/24- Observers reported remote triggered avalanches up to 100 meters away that were a meter deep. Tsaina trees below 3000′.
12/23- DOT mitigation work on snow slide gulch produced 3 D2.5’s that ran half of their path.
– HS-N-R3-D3-G, NW Crudbusters/ ~5000′
-Multiple D2-D2.5 slides on Oddessey and Little Oddessey. NW-N aspects. Only Little Oddessey crown was clear. ~100 yards wide, ~4′ deep.
-Natural D3 avalanche on Billy Mitchell NW-N aspects, originated ~5000′ stepped down to the ground around 4200′ in rocky terrain. Approximately 200 yards wide.
-Natural D2 avalanche activity was also noted on west aspects of 40.5 mile and Iguana Backs ~3500′. Further observations were prevented due to poor light.
12/20- A powder cloud reached the highway at the mp 42 slide path. “Three Pigs”. No other details available
-Numerous small (3-4″ deep) natural avalanches were observed in the Python and Cracked Ice Buttress area.
12/20- Multiple D1 soft slabs off Mt Cheddar Cheese Wedge (Hippie Ridge) originating from ~6500′
12/3- Numerous natural avalanches were observed north of Thompson Pass with many avalanches failing at the ground. Observations were not made south of Thompson Pass.
Avalanches observed from 46 mile towards Thompson Pass:
Three Pigs: Nearly every path on the SE face ran with debris deposits stopping in the top 1/3 of aprons, thick alders prevented slides from running full path. These were mostly D3 avalanches.
40.5 Mile Peak: Many paths running similar to Three Pigs, with one running full path to the Tsaina river. Mainly W-NW aspects, D3’s
Max High (Peak on the southern extent of Hippie Ridge) had a D3 avalanche with a crown near 5500′,SW aspect.
Upper Catchers Mitt bowl E aspect, slid R4-D3 ,triggering further avalanches lower down.
The main activity noted, was on the buttresses on the east side of the pass, from Cracked Ice through North Odessey Gully. Every buttress had significant avalanche activity originating ~4000-5000′. Many of these failed at the ground, north – northwest aspect. Pictures below.
School Bus and North Odyssey Gully both ran with debris in the runouts.
Many other large to very large natural avalanches occurred.
12/2- DOT reported a natural D2.5-3 avalanche that hit the Lowe river at Snowslide Gulch.
11/30- Natural avalanche observed on 40.5 mile peak just to the South of the Shovel. West aspect, ~4500′, crown ~200′ wide, poor light prevented further observation. SS-N-R1-D2-U.
11/29: Natural avalanche observed on Billy Mitchell Cry babys shoulder, similar elevation as 11/16 slide but originated a couple hundred meters further west. Released from ~4000′ with a crown length of ~ 200 meters, North aspect, ~ 37°, failed at the ground. HS-N-R2-D2.5-G
11/16: Natural avalanche observed on Billy Mitchell “Cry babys shoulder”. Released from~3500′ with a crown length of ~200 meters, North aspect. This slide was triggered by recent NE wind cross loading the slope. SS-N-R2-D2-U
11/15: Natural avalanche observed in Loveland Basin on a South aspect, down the ridge from Tones Temple. This slide was triggered by recent NE wind loading and failed at the ground. SS-N-R1-D2-G
01/04- Another band of snowfall is expected today with an additional 4-8 inches of accumulation expected in the next 24 hours.
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` 28 F 22 F
Temp at 3000` 29 F 30 F
Chance of precip 80% 70%
(above 1000 FT) 0.34 in 0.19 in
(above 1000 FT) 3-6 in 1-2 in
Snow level 700 ft 500 ft
Wind 3000` ridges NE 3-15 mph NE 6-25 mph
Thompson Pass weather history 20/21. Click on links above the images to see full size view
TP as of 12/29
12/31-1/2- Clear weather with light winds has allowed surface hoar to grow on the north side of Thompson Pass. Crystals up to 1 cm were observed on Crudbusters 1/1 up to ridge tops. If this layer remains intact before being buried by subsequent snowfall, it will form a weak layer in our snowpack that will likely be significant. Being able to map the distribution of this layer through our range will be important in the coming week. If you see Surface Hoar, leave a public observation indicating what elevation you observed it.
12/24-12/30- Generally benign weather with light snowfall and light to moderate winds has allowed our snowpack to gain strength. Last reported avalanche activity was 12/24.
12/21-12/23- Major winter storm brings strong winds, increasing temperatures and 36″ of snow and 3.35″ of SWE to Thompson Pass at road level.
12/19-12/20- Continued stormy weather incrementally deposits ~12 inches of low density snow. Top 3-4 inches doesn’t bond well to underlying snow and is reactive on 12/20 in multiple locations.
12/17-12/18- Significant north winds along with light snow has built wind slabs on lee aspects. These slabs may be sitting on persistent grains such as near surface facets in some locations.
12/13-12/16- Light snow has been falling and has landed on surface hoar below 3000′. This layer exists north and possibly south of Thompson Pass. On Thompson Pass proper, buried surface hoar is unlikely due to wind. So far there is an insignificant amount of snow to overload these layers and create dangerous conditions. This will be a layer to watch below 3000′ once more snow accumulates, possibly by this weekend. If you have observed surface hoar in the Port of Valdez area leave an observation.
12/8-12/12- Clear cold and calm was the theme during this period. With this, surface hoar has begun to form below 3000′. On 12/12 surface hoar was found to exist up to 1.5 cm in length on flat benches. On slopes the size was 2-4 mm. SH has not been observed in high elevation start zones. If conditions remain calm before the next snowfall this will form a sensitive layer in our snowpack in our low and mid elevation bands.
12/5-12/7- Thompson Pass received 23 inches of snow with 2.23″ of SWE. Temperatures and freezing line rose mid storm bringing rain to the coast.
NE winds began 12/4 and have redistributed the storm snow onto lee aspects. This wind event has not been widespread and appears to be concentrated to areas in close proximity to Thompson Pass.
November was mostly dominated by clear, cold and windy weather. On 11/25 a major wx pattern shift occurred which produced 8 days of consecutive storms that delivered 10 inches of water and 90″ of snow to Thompson Pass. This storm fell on a thin snowpack with poor structure near the ground. On 12/1-12/2 a widespread natural avalanche cycle occurred with many avalanches failing at the ground. This event was caused by 4.6″ of SWE on Thompson Pass in a 72 hour period along with rising temperatures bringing the freezing line up to 3000′.
The avalanche hazard is Considerable at mid elevation and moderate at upper and lower elevations. Human triggered storm snow avalanches will be possible 1/4. Thompson Pass has reported 11 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours. This new snow is falling on surface hoar north of Thompson Pass in areas that were not exposed to outflow winds on the 1st and 2nd of the month. Additional snowfall is expected today which will add to the stress already applied to these layers and will cause the hazard to slowly rise through the day. Avoid steep terrain and terrain traps 1/4.
For more information click the (+full forecast) button below.
Submit a public observation to help create a picture of our constantly changing snowpack. Visit our observation page to leave a comment or you can email me directly at [email protected]
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