Surface hoar was buried on 1/14, this has the potential to be a dangerous layer in the future, and has the ability to persist for long periods of time. Currently, in most areas this layer is not buried deep enough to be a real concern.
The potential to trigger avalanches exists in specific areas where the 1/14 BSH (buried surface hoar) is covered by wind slabs created on 1/17. Winds could have created a slab that is stiff enough and deep enough to make this layer reactive to human triggers.
The lee side of high elevation ridges and lee slopes in wind channeled terrain will be the areas where triggering a persistent slab avalanche about 1 foot in depth will be possible today.
In the next 48 hours the sensitivity for this problem should increase and the distribution will become more widespread. Increasing temperatures and moderate to heavy snow will be building slabs atop weak snow that will be moving closer to the tipping point. Snowfall is expected to be light today and will increase in the evening along with temperatures.
Surface Hoar from Girls Mountain at ~3000′ on 1/13 when it was still at the surface.
Faceted snow at the base of our snowpack has not been reactive for 12 days, on 1/6 one outlier avalanche occurred at mid elevation near Thompson Pass (see avalanche activity section). Prior to this, avalanches haven’t occurred since 12/16 at these deep layers.
A slowly building snowpack and recent benign weather have allowed our snowpack to slowly gain strength. Rounding (strengthening) has been observed at these facets in all three forecast zones, but this process takes a lot of time. At this point triggering an avalanche at this layer is very unlikely. Once significant snowfall returns to our area, expect for the potential to affect these deep layers to increase.
Unlikely does not mean impossible, and triggering an avalanche deep in the snowpack would carry significant consequences. The most likely place to affect these layers would be in thin, rocky areas in the Continental zone.
Rounding facets near the base of our snowpack from Cracked Ice at 4000′ on 1/11.
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
1/17- Numerous wet loose point release were observed on solar aspects in the Port of Valdez. Most of these originated from rocks were the suns energy permeated into dry snow and caused surface snow to become upside down. No step down slab avalanches were observed.
-Small (D1) spin drift avalanches on the lee side of Tones Temple ridge triggered a small slab at the 1/14 BSH layer.
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 01/19/23 Friday 01/20/23
Time (LT) 06 12 18 00 06 12 18 00 06
Cloud Cover OV OV OV OV OV OV OV OV OV
Cloud Cover (%) 90 90 100 100 90 90 90 90 90
Temperature 15 18 21 21 24 25 25 19 22
Max/Min Temp 22 19 29 14
Wind Dir E NE E SE SE E NE N N
Wind (mph) 14 12 13 10 8 4 10 9 10
Wind Gust (mph) 26
Precip Prob (%) 60 70 80 90 70 70 70 50 20
Precip Type S S S S S S S S S
12 Hour QPF 0.19 0.42 0.12 0.12
12 Hour Snow 2.9 5.7 1.5 1.3
Snow Level (kft) 0.0 0.3 1.0 1.6 1.4 1.3 0.7 0.5 0.3
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 above 1500′. Human triggered avalanches are possible up to 1 foot in depth, in previously wind loaded terrain. Fresh wind slabs formed Tuesday sit on weak snow that is expected to remain sensitive longer than what is typical. Watch for signs of instability such as shooting cracks and use small test slopes to check the sensitivity of previously wind loaded terrain.
Posted by Gareth Brown 01/19 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.
If you have pictures of recent natural or human triggered avalanches or notice signs of instability such as shooting cracks or collapsing, leave an observation to help improve forecast accuracy.
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