Valdez

Forecast as of 04/29/2019 at 08:00 and expires on 04/30/2019

Above 2,500ftNone

1,800 to 2,500ftNone

Below 1,800ftNone

Degrees of Avalanche Danger

Avalanche Problems

Problem Details

Problem 1: Persistent Slab

Distribution: Primarily above 3500', especially northerly aspects.  Size: Small- Large. Likelihood: Possible.  Sensitivity: Stubborn 

Description: Notable density differences exist at old storm interfaces, and areas where buried surface hoar was preserved within the upper snowpack (top meter).  Dig and test for these concerns.

Problem 2: Falling Cornice

Distribution: Primarily ridges above Treeline. Size: Small- Large. Likelihood: Unlikely - Possible. Sensitivity: Stubborn-  increasing as temperatures and direct solar input increase. 

Description: The advisory area has significant cornice formation in the alpine - keep your distance!  As the temperature increases and/or weight is added (rain/snow or humans), they're much more likely to fail.  Cornice failure can trigger other avalanche concerns.

Problem 3: Wet Loose

Distribution: All solar aspects, especially below 3000'.  Size: Small- Large. Likelihood: Unlikely  - Possible.  Sensitivity: Stubborn - Reactive

Description: As the air temperature and solar input increase, wet loose avalanches are possible.

Avalanche Activity

April 26: Several D1 avalanches observed, and 1 unintentional human triggered avalanche size D1 reported, all above 3500' on northerly aspects
April 22-25: Four D1 size human triggered avalanches observed/reported above 4000' in wind protected areas

Please share your field observations including signs of stable snow HERE.

Weather

The most recent NWS rec Forecast can be found HERE:

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

Additional Information

The Valdez Avalanche Center issued its final advisory of the season on Sunday, April 28. Below you'll find snowpack information from the final avalanche advisory.  This information may no longer be relevant.  We'll issue a general spring advisory within the next few days.

SNOWPACK BIG PICTURE  The advisory area received no notable snow since 4/22 and the freezing level has remained below 3000' since then.  We've had a few periods of wind transport from various directions creating wind effected surface conditions throughout the alpine.  Previous to the last storm cycle, small pockets of surface hoar was preserved and buried in the lee of some northerly facing pockets above 3500'.  Below the top meter of snow, the snowpack has a weak temperature gradient and is actively rounding. 

The snowpack below 2500' is steadily becoming isothermic.

Recent snowpack history, from top to bottom:

4/19-21:   Above 3500', 12"+ of consolidated snow sits atop notable storm layers from the previous 2 weeks.  Winds capable of transporting snow came from all directions, but primarily from the south. 

4/18: Rain event previous to 3"+ new snow with several hours of light to moderate Southerly winds above 2500'.  Freezing level from 4500-2000' during the cycle.

4/8 - 4/12: Three storm cycles produced 20"+ of snow above 2500' and rain below.  The advisory area experienced a brief wind event which distributed snow and added to cornice formation.  

April 6-7:  Light winds, 6"+ snow in the alpine above 3500'

April 4-6: No new notable precipitation.  Mostly calm but occasional gusty winds, and freezing level reaching below 1000'.

March 25-April 2:  Clear skies, calm winds, and freezing level reaching above 4000'.  No additional precipitation. Above freezing up to 5600' during the day, freezing down to ~2500' at night.

March 16-24:  An atmospheric river dominated the forecast with light winds, steady rain in the lower elevations, and accumulating snow in the upper elevations. 4" of rain (SWE)!  Below 3200' the snowpack is diminishing.  4+ feet of new snow is accumulating in the upper elevations.  There was reports of natural and human triggered slab avalanches during this time period and numerous small - large wet loose and wet slab avalanches in steep, low & mid-elevation terrain.

March 7-16: A consistent series of gulf lows produced slow and steady precipitation. 2.4" SWE in Valdez, and 3.1" at Thompson Pass which produced up to 3' of new snow above 3000'. There has been light-moderate south and easterly winds loading north and west faces slightly more than east and south faces. There were no reports of natural slab avalanches during this time period, but numerous small wet loose avalanches in steep, low elevation terrain.

Feb 22-March 7: Calm high pressure with overall warm temps (40F in town on multiple days) and only a few hours of moderate north winds. There have been no signs of the Jan 23rd persistent weak layer in the maritime region. There has been widespread surface facet formation; especially further north/interior.

Feb 20-22: High N-NE winds, rapidly transporting any available snow (70mph gusts). In certain places the wind built new slabs and alternatively stripped all the new snow back to old layers and rain crusts. 

Feb 16-18: Over 2" SWE and 2' of snow with little wind. 

Feb 7-14: Nearly 0" new snow and building north winds (70mph NE gusts on Feb 14 at Thompson Pass.) Widespread surface hoar growth up to 6mm. In windy locations, and close to the pass, most of this surface hoar has been knocked down. A 'drizzle crust' formed near the pass up to 5500' and was observed buried 55cm down on Loveland at 5000' (on Feb 20.)

Feb 3-6: 0.7" SWE and 8" of snow from Valdez to Thompson Pass. 8" of new snow was recorded at 5500' on Catcher's Mitt. Freezing level was sea level throughout this cycle.

Jan 30-Feb 1: Natural avalanche cycle on all aspects above 3000', up to size D3. Most ran on buried surface hoar (Jan 23rd layer).

Jan 28-30: 2" SWE in Valdez, moderate winds, freezing level 1000'.

Jan 23-25: Multiple days of warm and wet with periods of rain up to 2500' which buried the Jan 23rd Surface Hoar layer.

Jan 13-22: Mostly clear, cold, and dry with light to moderate north winds. Widespread Surface Hoar growth (up to 15mm) and Near Surface Faceting.

Jan 12-13: 3-10" of new snow with little wind.

Jan 4-12: VERY cold and dry: moderate winds and wind chill reaching -50F. Pockets of surface hoar and widespread near surface faceting.

Dec 30-Jan 3: The New Year's Eve storm brought nearly 2.5" of SWE to Valdez and almost another 1" (SWE) on the 2-3rd of January. The rain line was 1200' during the Jan 2-3 storm, forming a 1-3" crust locking up all the snow beneath it. These storms accumulated over 3' above 2000' near Thompson Pass. Both of these storms had little wind.

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.

Announcements

Share your field observations with the community HERE.