Valdez

Forecast Expired

Above 4,000ftConsiderable

2,000 to 4,000ftModerate

Below 2,000ftLow

Degrees of Avalanche Danger

Avalanche Problems

Problem 1

Wind Slab:

Likelihood:

  • Almost Certain
  • Very Likely
  • Likely
  • Possible
  • Unlikely

Size:

  • Historic
  • Very Large
  • Large
  • Small

Trend

  • Increasing
  • Steady
  • Decreasing

Problem 2

Persistent Slab:

Likelihood:

  • Almost Certain
  • Very Likely
  • Likely
  • Possible
  • Unlikely

Size:

  • Historic
  • Very Large
  • Large
  • Small

Trend

  • Increasing
  • Steady
  • Decreasing

Avalanche Activity

1/7- Report of a Glide crack release on snowslide gulch at ~3000′.  D2-2.5, crown depth ~ 3 meters.  Release did not produce sympathetic avalanches.

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.

Weather

1/9 Bitter cold and strong  north winds are forecasted for our area today.

The Thompson Pass Mountain Forecast covers the mountains (above
1000 ft) surrounding Keystone Canyon through Thompson Pass to
Worthington Glacier.

This forecast is for use in snow safety activities and emergency
management.

                   Today        Tonight

Temp at 1000`      6 F          -9--1 F

Temp at 3000`      -8-4 F       -15--2 F

Chance of precip   0%           0%

Precip amount
(above 1000 FT)    0.00 in      0.00 in

Snow amount
(above 1000 FT)    0 in         0 in

Snow level         sea level    sea level

Wind 3000` ridges  NE 12-36 mph NE 15-42 mph
  24h snowfall (inches) HN24W (inches)* Hi Temp (F) Low Temp (F) January snowfall Season Snowfall Snow height 
Valdez 0 0 10 80 37
46 mile 0 0 6 -12 2 43 12

Thompson Pass “DOT”

0 0 4 -14 21 316 87

 HN24W= total water received last 24 hours in inches

Additional Information

Wind speeds on Thompson pass increased to 60 mph on 1/8.  This increase in wind has created fresh wind slab in places that were previously unaffected by wind.  Wind slab often has a hollow, drum-like feel and should be avoided.  Triggering a wind slab avalanche 1-3 feet deep will be likely on recently wind loaded slopes.

 The snowpack is gaining strength with falling temperatures and the end of precipitation.  BUT…. We have a problem layer below 4000′ 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 normal 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.  This problem is more significant the further north you go from Thompson Pass.

 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.  Use terrain progression as you step out into new zones.  Test smaller slopes before you step out onto larger ones.

 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.

 

Announcements

The avalanche hazard is considerable at upper elevations.  Human triggered avalanches are likely on recently wind loaded slopes.  Our snowpack has undergone significant changes in the last 2 weeks and is slowly adjusting.  There is still the possibility to trigger a deep slab avalanche.  Only expose one person to a slope at a time, and avoid steep rocky terrain, slopes that are being actively wind loaded and terrain traps.