Give wind-loaded terrain features time to bond and test small features before going big.
New wind slabs can release much larger and deeper than expected….leading to consequential avalanches with firm and powerful blocks of snow.
Above 2,500ft Moderate
1,800 to 2,500ft Moderate
Below 1,800ft Moderate
Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?
|SATURDAY||SUNDAY||MONDAY & TUESDAY|
Aspect: Lee to northerly winds
Terrain: Near ridgelines, rollovers, and gully walls
Likelihood (Human Triggered): Possible
Size: Small – Large
Danger Trend: Decreasing slowly
Forecaster Confidence: Fair
AVALANCHE PROBLEM SCALE DESCRIPTORS:
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
AVALANCHE PROBLEM TOOLBOX <here>
Inter-Mountain (Transitional) Specific:
Today and early tomorrow will provide a brief respite from strong outflow winds forcing their way over passes and ridgelines from the north. They will likely pick up again Sunday afternoon and into Monday. Extreme winds that peaked near 90 mph scoured deep into older snow and drift snow into low lying gullies, trees, crevasses and rollovers. Many natural wind slab avalanches released throughout our region while few human triggered were reported…likely due to the inhospitable conditions. Expect firm and variable conditions with exposed old crusts, wind board and sastrugi dominating the environment. Extra effort will be necessary to seek out the wind protected nooks that harbor soft snow. Be wary along corniced and loaded ridgelines, convex rollovers and steep gully walls. Wind slab needs time to bond to underlying snow and can trigger very large and unpredictable avalanches.
Areas with wind loading have proven to be responsive. Multiple Wind Slab avalanches on Southerly aspects of Girls Mountain occurred February 28th. A wind event like this increases the avalanche hazard significantly. Test small subject slopes before stepping it up to anything with high consequence.
There also has been recently reported findings of widespread buried surface hoard and near surface facets within the maritime zone….something that could easily be extending into all zones into the interior. No details on how sensitive they were, but worthy of noting and to keep tabs on.
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
Inter-Mountain (Transitional) Specific:
Observed Feb. 28:
- Mar. 2: Many natural wind slabs have recently released off southerly and westerly aspects loaded by the NE wind.
- Feb. 28: Natural D2 wind slab avalanche near the hairpin, on the south side of Odyssey.
- Very obvious wind flagging on the peaks and sastrugi on the Deserted Glacier
- Multiple Size 2 Wind Slab avalanches on South Aspects on Girl’s Mountain.
See Maritime Zone for updated weather.
Additional Info & Media
- 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>
SNOW CLIMATE ZONES:
- 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
Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)
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.