Issued: Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 8AM

Expires: Sat, Nov 26, 2016

We are Thankful for our mountains. Let it snow!!!

If you are planning a Thanksgiving adventure, consider the consequence of the terrain you choose. Routes that avoid steep, windloaded slopes will reduce your risk of triggering an avalanche.

Windslab sounds hollow and drummy; shooting cracks are a red flag indicating the slab could be triggered from below and/or propagate quite far. If you encounter windslab, get off it and choose a different route.

Early season dangers explained here (link to summary by Avalanche Canada).

Above 2,500ft Moderate

1,800 to 2,500ft Low

Below 1,800ft None

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

1. Low
2. Moderate
3. Considerable
4. High
5. Extreme

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details

Wind Slab Problems:
Outflow wind over the last week has produced windslab 1-3 feet thick lee to fetch areas in the upper elevations. Most of the snow available for transport in wind exposed areas was moved, but now, with prolonged cold temps the wind is recycling the faceted surfaces. Surfaces are sculpted and pencil hard in places.

A few flurries Sunday amounted to a couple inches at the Pass. This was mostly blown away. Average depth at 2500′ is about 20 inches.

Early season snow conditions mean variable depth from wind drifting: think bare/drift/bare in places. With temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit, snow is losing strength through faceting (becoming drier and sugary).

In wind protected areas, surface hoar and near surface faceting is continuing to grow interior of Thompson Pass.


20161116: 27 Mile Conditions

20161116: 27 Mile Conditions

20161116: N Side Cloud Ceiling

20161116: N Side Cloud Ceiling & Open Creek

Find more photos and observations below. Sharing your observations helps others make informed decisions about where and how to go.

Recent Avalanche Activity

Last known activity was a snowmachine triggered windslab size 1.5 on a steep windloaded southerly slope below DOT ridge Nov.16. This problem still exists; humans, especially machines or multiple machines on the same slope, could trigger windslab big enough to injure or bury.

Recent Weather

While a low pressure system is stalled in the North Pacific, our area will continue to experience strong outflow wind to 40 mph at ridgetops and passes. Single digits farhenheit with windchill well below zero and colder interior. A possibility of snow flurries by Friday night and into the weekend near the coast.

Additional Info & Media

SNOW HISTORY: Valdez 11/22 AM Thompson Pass 11/23 AM
Current Snow Depth 1″ 18″
24 Hour Snow / Water Equiv. 0” /0″ 0″ / 0″
Storm Snow /Water Equiv. (11/20) 2” / 0.2” 2″ / 0.2″
November Snow / Water Equiv. 5″ / 2.87″ 37″ / 4.9″
Total Winter Snowfall / Water Equiv. ?″ / ?” 60″ / 7.3″
Snowload in Valdez 0
SNOW DEPTH & WATER SURVEY (date) Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Milepost 2.5 Valdez  ?″  ?″
Milepost 18 ?″ ?″
Milepost 29 Worthington Flats ?″ ?″
Milepost 37 Tsaina River bridge ?″ ?″
 This survey is done the first week of each month.

Weather Quicklinks:

  • NWS forecast for Northeast Prince William Sound <here>
  • NOAA NWS spot forecast for Thompson Pass <here>
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>.
  • Thompson Pass weather <here>.
  • Further weather resources <here>


  • Maritime (Coastal) – from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  • Inter-mountain (Transitional) – between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  • Continental (Interior) – the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).

Photo of Thompson Pass <here>

Map of Valdez Forecast areas and recreating zones <here> (Thank you Trevor Grams!)

Run map of some of the forecast area <here>

NEWS: Our region is “one of the snowiest places on earth” – Serendipity / Rendezvous snowfall record set in 1963 <here>.

Free smart phone avalanche forecasts at:

Posted in VAC Forecasts.
Sarah Carter

Forecaster: Sarah Carter