Incredibly firm and variable conditions warrant more conservative speeds and plans. Monitor persistent weaknesses buried under firm layers.
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Above 2,500ft Low
1,800 to 2,500ft Low
Below 1,800ft Low
Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?
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Elevation: Above 2000′
Aspect: Lee to northerly winds
Terrain: Near ridgelines, rollovers, and gully walls
Likelihood (Human Triggered): Unlikely
Size: Small – Large
Danger Trend: Decreasing
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:
Recent evaluation in the port area (<1000′) demonstrated that poor structure remains in the upper snowpack: primarily wind slab resting on weak sugar snow (old facets). Test results supported easy collapses and propagation of the knife on fist layer combo. This undesirable situation is a bit less concerning due to the poor quality fracture (Q3) and friction/resistence within the thick, underlying weak layer that is bonding to the bottom of the wind slab. This is only where the wind slab can be found, for the majority of areas have been scoured down to the mid-February rain crust. Human triggered wind slab avalanches are unlikely, but steep, wind protected areas that retain the poor structure should be evaluated. You are most likely to trigger this slab where the snowpack is the thinnest. The last reported human triggered avalanche was March 11th.
Continue to monitor deeper weaknesses that could reactivate as temperatures warm this spring. March 15 test results at 3200′ on a north aspect in Gully 1 (Vertigo) produced propagation failure 180cm deep in basal facets: PST 90/180 End.
There are incredibly limited soft snow options for skiing, snowboarding, or snowmachining in the Valdez region, yet some far off wind protected pockets have held some inconsistent soft snow/facets. Despite a dusting in the interior on Wednesday, Valdez has not seen significant snowfall for one month as of today. 13 of the last 16 days had 50 mph wind gusts, approaching 100 mph at the beginning of this month. This wind cycle has scoured and stripped peaks and ridges of their snow. Glacial ice has been exposed in areas normally visible mid summer. Entrances to many “normal” ski runs are bare rock.
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:
- Recently reported from Mar 7: 2x D1 AS soft slabs (3500’ SW 20cm and 4000’ NE 15cm), long running dry loose and several collapses on low angle terrain.
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.