Sunday – Wednesday 3/19-22

Issued: Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 8AM

Expires: Wed, Mar 22, 2017

Flat light will reduce your ability to see above and around you. Surfaces are hard and inconsistent, making injury from falls and crashes hurt more.

Join the VAC Basecamp FREE classes every day this week in the One Love Lot (MP 29.5). Check our Facebook page for more details! Today’s class: Introduction to Thompson Pass Terrain

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



Likelihood (Human Triggered):
  Small – Large
Danger Trend:
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



Continental (Interior) Specific: 

The last reported human triggered avalanche was March 11th in this region on Mt. Tiekel. Testing from March 15 near MP 50 (on the shoulder of Mt. Tiekel) demonstrated continued poor snow structure with the ability to support easy-moderate propagation results. Knife hard wind slabs and firm rain crusts resting on weak sugar snow should be evaluated. Human triggered slab avalanches are possible in steep, wind protected areas that retain the poor structure. You are most likely to trigger this slab where the snowpack is the thinnest.

The Interior region of the Chugach has seen significantly less precipitation compared to coastal areas. Ground level facets (sugar snow) were found on a widespread scale through out this part of the range. These facets take time, possibly even an entire season to change their structure into something less avalanche prone. The likelihood of triggering an avalanche on these facets is moderate, but the consequences could be fatal.

There are 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 completely scoured and stripped all 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.


Rain Crust from mid Feb.

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

Continental (Interior) Specific: 

  • March 11 report of upper elevation skier triggered avalanche that ran on a previously released slope (March 3rd?) which has reloaded. The hard slab avalanche fracture crown was two feet deep, propagated 400 feet across the start zone, and ran 1000 feet. The skier was able to ski off the moving slab and wasn’t captured.
  • March 7 report of two size D1 soft slab avalanches (3500’ SW 20cm and 4000’ NE 15cm). Plus long running dry loose and several collapses on low angle terrain.

Recent Weather

See Maritime Zone for updated weather.

Additional Info & Media

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:

Posted in Continental Forecasts.
Sarah Carter

Forecaster: Sarah Carter