Tuesday-Friday 1/31-2/3

Issued: Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 8AM

Expires: Fri, Feb 03, 2017

Get the TRAINING! This Saturday Feb.4 hands-on Avalanche Rescue Workshop 9am-5pm. Valdez Civic Center. FREE for youth 10-18 years old. Do your riding partners have the skills to save your life? Make it a family affair.

This Friday, Feb.3 Luc Mehl, Alaskan adventurer, is sharing EMBRACING THE APPROACH – TAKING THE LONG WAY TO ALASKA’S MOUNTAINS. 6-9pm. Valdez Civic Center.

Above 2,500ft Moderate

1,800 to 2,500ft Low

Below 1,800ft Low

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

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

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details



 Above 1800 feet elevation
north and west 
Steeper than 30 degrees
Likelihood (Human Triggered): 
Small – Large
Danger Trend:
 Increasing with wind moving Jan.24-28 storm snow
Forecaster Confidence: 

Sensitivity: Non-reactive, Stubborn, Responsive, Touchy
Distribution: Isolated, Specific, Widespread
Likelihood: Unlikely, Possible, Likely, Nearly Certain
Size: Small, Large, Very Large (size scale <here>)
Danger Trend: Increasing, Steady, Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence: Good, Fair, Poor


SNOWPACK DISCUSSION: A moderate to strong southeast wind has picked up overnight, moving the 1-2′ of snow available for transport. Human triggered windslab avalanches are possible near rollovers, ridgelines, and upper start zones.

coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal): 4-5 inches overnight has added to the two feet of settling storm snow that fell Jan.24-28.

intermountain-zone-iconInter-Mountain (Transitional):  

  • 5 inches overnight with southeast wind building drifts to knee deep this morning. Near Thompson Pass the Jan.24-28 storm snow settled to about two feet with dry powder on top, available for wind transport in exposed areas. Testing Sunday showed a rough break down about 2′ at the new snow/old snow interface.

interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior):  

  • The Jan.24-28 storm delivered about a foot of new snow, which settled to 6 inches of light dry powder over a breakable, more dense layer. This lays over old layers of weaker faceted snow. While there appears to not be concentrated force, basal facets were collapsing Sunday with testing above MP 40. This uncertainty with the interior snowpack, leaves the slim possbility of human triggered avalanches in upper elevation rocky terrain.

Find more photos and observations at the bottom of the page. Sharing your observations creates an informed community that everyone benefits from at some point.

Recent Avalanche Activity

coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal):

  • No new observations Monday.

intermountain-zone-iconInter-Mountain (Transitional):  

  • No new observations.

interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior):  

  • No new observations.


Recent Weather

WEATHER FORECAST for NEXT 24 HRS at 3,000 ft:
Temperature Forecast (Min/Max *F):  20 / 25
Ridgetop Wind Forecast (direction/mph): SE / 7-23
Snowfall (in):  1-4
PAST 24 hours
Ferry Terminal Thompson Pass
Average Wind Speed (mph) / Direction   5 / variable  15 / SE
Max Wind Gust (mph) / Direction  12 / variable  27 / SE
Temperature Min / Max (*F)  26 / 28  14 / 21

Weather Forecast:    Southeast wind is picking up with snow flurries continuing today becoming scattered and isolated by midnight. Accumulation to 7 more inches. Slight warming trend with freezing level at sea level. Clearing by Thursday with wind shifting to the north and outflows to 30mph Friday.

Additional Info & Media

SNOW HISTORY: Valdez 1/31 AM Thompson Pass 1/31 AM
24 Hour Snow / Water Equiv. 4.29”/0.19″ 4″ /0.3″
Storm Snow /Water Equiv. (1/31) 4.29” /0.19″ 4″ /0.3″
Current Snow Depth 40.7″ 42″
January Snow / Water Equiv. 76.9″ /6.08″ 96″ / 8.2″
Total Winter Snowfall / Water Equiv. 172.89″ / 15.9” 239″ / 22.6″
Snowload in Valdez 52 lbs/sq. ft.


Nicks Valley at 4200 ft (in): 1+”
Upper Tsaina at 1750 ft (in): ?”
Sugarloaf at 550 ft (in): 3+”
SNOW DEPTH & WATER SURVEY (1/3/2017) Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Milepost 2.5 Valdez  22.7″  4.7″
Milepost 18 27.9″ 5.9″
Milepost 29 Worthington Flats 44″ 9.9″
Milepost 37 Tsaina River bridge 33.8″ 5.6″
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>
  • Thompson Pass RWIS weather station <here>
  • MP 30 Nicks (Happy) Valley weather station at 4200 feet <here> (scroll to Nicks Valley)
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>
  • Further weather resources <here>


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

Photo of Thompson Pass


Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)


Run Map of Thompson Pass Area (Sean Wisner) (2MB download)
VAC Run Map Thompson Pass

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: http://www.avalancheforecasts.com/

Posted in VAC Forecasts.
Sarah Carter

Forecaster: Sarah Carter