Please share your field observations including signs of stable snow HERE.
The most recent NWS rec Forecast can be found HERE:
238 PM AKST Sat Mar 9 2019
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` 32 F 39 F
Temp at 3000` 28 F 32 F
Chance of precip 100% 90%
(above 1000 FT) 0.36 in 0.32 in
(above 1000 FT) 0-6 in 0-2 in
Snow level 600 ft 1500 ft
Wind 3000` ridges SE 11-34 mph S 6-23 mph
SNOWPACK BIG PICTURE: Wind slabs from Feb 20-22 (which were up to 3′ thick) have gained significant strength and/or have deteriorated. Below the recent wind slabs there are multiple layers that are showing good strength and structure. Of note: the Jan 23rd buried surface hoar layer is still barely reactive north of 40 mile; but is still possibly reactive in isolated pockets in steep, cold, shaded terrain throughout the entire Valdez region (buried 30-70cm down as of March 6). The further interior, the problem layers are more widespread and the snowpack is considerably shallower. New snow is falling on a variety of surfaces: old wind slab, surface facets, surface hoar, old pow, and sun crusts.
Recent snowpack history, from top to bottom:
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 has been widespread surface facet, and surface hoar formation. North of Keystone canyon, nighttime temps hit below 0F several nights.
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 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′.
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: was 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.
Above 4000′ the snowpack averages well over 300cm deep and has good strength and structure (few lemons). Below 4000′, the snowpack is significantly shallower and has old problem layers that are bonding well (rounding) and currently dormant: facet-crust combos and BASEL facets (all the way to sea level).
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 current avalanche hazard rating in all 3 regions is Moderate above treeline due to building storm slabs. The hazard will remain elevated until it stops snowing and the new snow has time to bond and settle. Triggering older/deeper slabs is unlikely. If we get more snow or wind than forecasted, the hazard will rapidly jump to CONSIDERABLE.
Each snowpack region has a unique forecast and hazard evaluation. Click FULL FORECAST for more information.
Please share your field observations HERE.
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