1 large avalanche was reported on Dec 23rd: a slab avalanche near the ridgeline of RFS, below the cornice. It was reported as possibly a size 2.5, persistent slab that ran 800-1000′.
Over the past few days several small wind slabs released near Thompson Pass from human triggers and several more small cornices released naturally, south facing 3-4000′.
Please share your field observations including signs of stable snow HERE.
The most up to date NWS Rec Forecast can be found HERE:
409 PM AKST Sat Dec 29 2018
The Thompson Pass Mountain Forecast covers the mountains (above
1000 ft) surrounding Keystone Canyon through Thompson Pass to
Temp at 1000` 20 F 28 F
Temp at 3000` 22-28 F 25 F
Chance of precip 70% 90%
(above 1000 FT) 0.05 in 0.21 in
(above 1000 FT) 0-1 in 2-5 in
Snow level sea level sea level
Wind 3000` ridges E 3-10 mph SE 10-25 mph
BIG PICTURE: The snowpack has been settling since the last major round of storms that ended Dec 19th. Since 12-19 there has been 6″ of snow in Valdez with 1″ SWE; 7″ of snow on Thompson with 0.5″ SWE and a trace at 46mile. Above 4000′ the snowpack averages over 300cm deep and has good strength and structure (few lemons). Below the rain line from the historically warm and wet October, 3500-4000′, the snowpack is significantly shallower and has more problem layers: facet-crust combos and basel facets (all the way to sea level). There is barely enough snow to build a slab avalanche or travel off trail anywhere below 1500′.
TREND NYE through Jan 3, 2019:
NWS is forecasting several days of warm, wet and possibly windy storm days this next week. New snow will likely form NEW storm slabs and wind slabs. If enough moisture falls then older weak layers that are currently dormant could awaken and release PERSISTENT SLABS with significant avalanches up to size D3. If we get rain on snow then small wet avalanches will also be possible. The next forecast will be Friday Jan 4th.
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.
The overall hazard is MODERATE due to unlikely but possibly LARGE Persistent Slab avalanches. The hazard and type of avalanche problem will change soon with the approaching warm, windy, and wet storm. All 3 zones have the same forecast. Please click ‘full forecast’ to get more info. Have a safe New Years and all the best in 2019 from your community supported Valdez Avalanche Center.
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