Numerous D3 avalanches were observed on the east side of the road, north of Thompson Pass. Between Gully 1 and Cracked Ice, every buttress had significant avalanches originating from ~3000-3500 ‘, NW-NE aspects. Gully 1 and 2 had debris in the drainages, with Gully 2 running a considerable distance into the flats. These avalanches most likely ran between 12/29 and 12/31 during a significant spike in temperatures. There were many other naturals during this period. Many of these have been filled in by new snow and are being blowing in by the current wind event, making them hard to see.
12/31 Numerous small-medium natural avalanches observed below 4000′ on steep rollovers on the north side of the pass.
12/30 Natural avalanche observed on Cracked Ice Butress at 2700′. ~300 meters wide, 1 meter+ deep. Connected through gullies and over ridges.
D3 avalanche on east face of Mt. Tiekel (MP 50). Ran into top 1/3 of apron.
12/28- Several natural avalanches reported in the 54 mile area near brush line. 100′ wide and ran 300′. Depth was not observed.
12/26- Skier triggered avalanche on Cracked Ice Buttress: N aspect, 2500′, 37° slope, 18 inches deep, 100 feet wide, ran 200-300 feet. SS-ASu-D1-R1-I
12/24- Skier triggered avalanche on Python Buttress: NW aspect, 2700′, 35° slope, 60 feet wide, ran 200-300 feet. SS-ASu-D1.5-R1-O
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.
1/4: There is a high pressure system established over mainland Alaska, and a low pressure system in the Gulf. This pressure difference will cause north winds to become strong today through Sunday. There is a wind chill advisory in effect for Thompson Pass; expect dangerous wind chill values of -50 F.
There is the potential for some snow showers to move into our area tonight and drop a couple of inches.
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` 7 F 3 F
Temp at 3000` 0 F 3 F
Chance of precip 30% 80%
(above 1000 FT) 0.01 in 0.12 in
(above 1000 FT) trace 2-4 in
Snow level sea level sea level
Wind 3000` ridges NE 15-31 mph NE 12-30 mph
Remarks...Wind Chill Advisory remains in effect until 9 AM Sun.
Blowing snow could briefly reduce visibilities as low as one half
mile Sat night into Sun.
Nicks Snotel “4500′”
HN24W= total water received last 24 hours in inches
Northeast winds at Thompson Pass were up to 40 mph, with stronger winds at higher elevations. This has created instabilities near the surface on lee slopes, (SE-NW). Avoid areas that have fresh wind slab and slopes that are receiving active wind loading. Human triggered avalanches 1-3′ deep will be likely, and could step down into deeper layers of the snowpack, creating very large avalanches. The hazard will remain steady until wind speeds decrease.
The snowpack is gaining strength with falling temperatures and the end of precipitation. BUT…. We have a problem layer that is now buried deep within the snowpack. This poses multiple problems that may make decision making difficult. Since this layer is buried deeply, it may not show the signs of instability- shooting cracks, collapsing. Also, it may allow multiple people to ski or snowmachine on a slope before someone finally finds the sweet spot and triggers an avalanche. This type of avalanche will be most likely triggered from areas where the slab is thinner and the weak layer is closer to the surface, near rock outcroppings, or other thin areas of the snowpack.
The new snow has opened up different access points. Use caution as you step forward into new zones. New snow combined with strong winds from different directions has created a lot of spatial variability in our area. Careful snowpack evaluation and conservative terrain choices will be critical today.
There have been limited observations from interior locations due to low snow at lower elevations. Use caution if you travel in these areas.
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 recently wind loaded slopes. Thompson Pass is in the midst of an outflow wind event. Abundant recent snowfall, combined with strong north wind will easily be forming fresh windslab. Avoid wind loaded slopes and areas that are experiencing active wind loading.
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