Thompson Pass reported 8 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. It is possible that upper elevation start zones received higher amounts and sensitive surface snow could exist over the next 24 hours.
Pay attention to new snow amounts and the affect of wind redistribution in the area you choose to travel. Winds out of the NE were recorded as light to moderate, although stronger winds could have occurred in certain locations. Hand pits can be a good way to assess how well new snow is bonding to older snow. Watch for signs of instability such as shooting cracks or collapsing that would indicate a slope has the ability to produce an avalanche with sufficient angle.
There is a currently a lot of dry snow available for transport. New snow over the last 24 hours has added to soft snow at the surface available for wind transport. Winds have been light to moderate since the New Years storms. It will be possible to find fresh wind slabs 1-2 feet deep on the lee side of high elevation ridge lines or cross loaded gullies in wind channeled terrain. Look for visual signs of wind loading such as pillowed snow surfaces and fresh cornice development on ridge lines. Also watch for signs of instability such as shooting cracks and collapsing that would indicate a slope has the energy to produce an avalanche.
Faceted snow in the bottom portion of our snowpack continues to exist in all three climate zones. Human triggered or natural avalanches have not been reported or observed at this layer since 12/16. At this point, it is unlikely for a person to trigger an avalanche at this layer . Although, trigger points may still exist in isolated locations like thin rocky areas where the overlying slab is thinner and a person or machine could affect weak facets near the ground.
In most locations above brush line very hard wind damaged snow is overlying persistent weak layers. This has effectively created a bridging affect and is one reason why affecting these layers, is not currently likely. Remember that unlikely does not mean impossible. Realize that this flaw in our snowpack exists and keep that information in mind while making terrain decisions in the future.
The most likely areas to trigger a persistent slab avalanche will be in the Continental zone where a more faceted snowpack is in place and previous wind events were less severe. Below brush line is also a concern as alders provided shelter from winds allowing persistent grains to survive near the surface as well as colder temps that would promote facets during inversions.
Below is a summary of observed Avalanche activity from the last 7 days. Avalanches that were noted earlier in the season can be viewed by clicking the link below.
If you trigger or observe a natural avalanche consider leaving a public observation.
Valdez Avalanche Activity
No natural avalanche activity was reported or observed above freezing line for the New Years storm. Wet loose activity occurred below 2000′ south of Thompson Pass with one large wet loose observed in Keystone Canyon.
Check out our updated weather tab! A collection of local weather stations are available for viewing with graphs and tabular data included.
NWS Watches and warnings
NWS Point forecast for Thompson Pass
Date Thursday 01/05/23 Friday 01/06/23
Time (LT) 06 12 18 00 06 12 18 00 06
Cloud Cover OV SC SC OV OV OV SC SC OV
Cloud Cover (%) 80 25 50 85 85 85 35 40 85
Temperature 21 15 13 8 10 17 16 9 12
Max/Min Temp 22 8 18 9
Wind Dir E NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
Wind (mph) 4 8 13 11 11 10 8 4 8
Wind Gust (mph)
Precip Prob (%) 30 0 0 0 0 20 10 10 30
Precip Type S S S
12 Hour QPF 0.01 0.00 0.02 0.00
12 Hour Snow 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Snow Level (kft) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Click on link below for Thompson Pass weather history graph:
*HN24W- 24 hour Snow water equivalent in inches
*SWE– Snow water equivalent
**46 mile seasonal snowfall total begins December 1st.
Click on the link below for a running summary of the seasons weather history.
Valdez Weather History
The avalanche hazard is Considerable above 4000′ and Moderate below. We are within 24 hours of a moderate snow storm that may be enough at upper elevations to create shallow storm slabs that are sensitive to human triggers. Pay attention to the depth and sensitivity of new snow.
Posted by Gareth Brown 01/05 8:00 am.
For a description of current avalanche problems, weather information, season history and more click the (+ full forecast) button. Avalanche forecasts will be issued Wednesday-Sunday.
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