On 1/5 overall stable conditions were observed with small wind slabs that were sensitive to human triggers in specific locations. Similar conditions are expected today. Identifying and avoiding these areas will help you to stay out of harms way today. Wind slabs are being formed by light to moderate NE winds. Lee side of terrain features, cross loaded gullies and the lee side of high elevation ridges are areas where sensitive wind slabs may exist. Use small test slopes to determine the depth and sensitivity of windslabs in the area you choose to travel. Remember that deeper wind slabs can exist in isolated location depending upon location and terrain shape.
Our area is currently experiencing light to moderate winds. With lots of dry snow available for transport the amount of wind we are receiving will be plenty to form sensitive wind slabs on lee aspects. On 1/5 wind loads were found to be very shallow (4 inches), although one deeper pocket to 1 1/2 feet was observed. The depth of these slabs may growth time.
The hazard will be lower in areas unaffected by wind.
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 Friday 01/06/23 Saturday 01/07/23
Time (LT) 06 12 18 00 06 12 18 00 06
Cloud Cover OV OV FW SC OV OV OV OV OV
Cloud Cover (%) 80 75 15 30 70 95 95 95 95
Temperature 10 18 13 8 10 13 16 13 18
Max/Min Temp 18 8 17 12
Wind Dir NE NE E NE NE NE NE NE E
Wind (mph) 12 9 4 4 16 18 17 13 13
Wind Gust (mph) 25 25 19 31 31 31 25 34
Precip Prob (%) 0 5 5 5 10 30 40 60 70
Precip Type S S S S
12 Hour QPF 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.22
12 Hour Snow 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.5
Snow Level (kft) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0
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 moderate at all elevations. Human triggered wind slab avalanches will be possible 6 inches-2 feet deep in specific locations. These include lee slopes and cross loaded terrain. Natural avalanches are unlikely.
Posted by Gareth Brown 01/06 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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