Saturday, February 10th at the Moose Lodge in Palmer.
Get your tickets online here! or cash only at Backcountry Bike and Ski or Active Soles in Palmer. Come bid on dozens of awesome silent auction items. Bring your dancing shoes and shake the Mananuska winds away! This is your chance to show your support for your local avalanche center!
Above 3,500ft Considerable
2,500 to 3,500ft Considerable
Below 2,500ft Low
Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?
A Considerable Hazard exists for Wind Slab Avalanches. Strong Easterly winds picked up on 1/28 through 2/2, transporting low density snow and building Wind Slabs on Southwest to Northwest aspects, with the highest concentration on West aspects, at mid to upper elevations. Human triggering avalanches in specific portions of terrain will be likely today. Natural avalanches will be possible if strong winds continue.
A Low Hazard exists at low elevation.
WIND SLAB AVALANCHE PROBLEM
Strong, sustained, Easterly winds gusting throughout the week and into the 50’s mph yesterday have built touchy wind slabs, approximately 6 inches to 2 feet deep, sitting over weak, faceted, sugary snow, mostly on Southwest to Northwest leeward aspects and cross-loaded features and gullies. Avalanches will be mostly D1 in size, but some will be capable of reaching D2 in size in specific, broad, wind loaded locations today.
Wind slabs can have a smooth appearance and a drummy, hollow like sound when traveling over them. Pole/probe tests can easily reveal the structural problem of stiffer snow overlying weaker snow. Both soft and hard slabs exist. Hard slabs will have the ability to propagate longer distances and result in larger, more dangerous avalanches. They may also be triggered remotely from a distance, adjacent to, from below, or break above you. Whumphing and shooting cracks are bulls eye clues for this avalanche problem.
Wind slabs will be sensitive to trigger on slope angles as low as 30° and may be remotely triggered from lower angle slopes. On Friday, we triggered a significant avalanche from a location on a slope at 28°, which propagated 300 feet onto a steeper slope that maxed out at 35°.
Buried surface hoar has been found lurking in the snowpack and may be partially responsible for some of the natural wind slab activity earlier in the week. Buried surface hoar was found in the snowpack in the avalanche mentioned above, however, the weak layer that failed was comprised of faceted grains and did not contain surface hoar. Further testing at this site found that surface hoar in another layer in the snowpack was unreactive, and scarce. Both surface hoar and faceted grains will have the ability to propagate long distances, especially with stiff wind slabs overlying them. Staying safe in these conditions will require you to identify features of concern and avoid those locations.
Pit profile here
Recent Avalanche Activity
Several small natural wind slab avalanches were observed and reported -observations here- Feb 1 and 2 after the wind spiked. Most avlanches occured on west aspects at mid and upper elevations on slopes above 30º. Cracking, collapsing , and whumping were observed on lower angle 28º slopes on 2/2 and resulted in triggering a 300ft wide 6-24″ deep wind slab on a west aspect at 3500′.
This week’s weather at 3550′:
Temps averaged 14ºF, with a low of 6ºF and a high of 21ºF.
0″ of new snow this week.
Overnight at 3550′:
Temps averaged 14.5° F.
0″ new snow overnight.
This week’s weather at 4500′:
Temps averaged 11ºF, with a low of 0ºF and a high of 20ºF.
Winds averaged E 12 mph, max E 36 mph . Gusts averaged E 22 mph, max gusts E 59 mph. Strong gusts sustained for over 12 hours on 2/2 E 48-59mph.
Overnight at 4500′:
Temps averaged 12ºF overnight.
Winds averaged 1E 5 mph overnight, with a max gust of E 48 mph.
NWS recreational forecast for Hatcher Pass here
NWS point forecast here
State Parks snow report here
Additional Info & Media
The avalanche hazard will remain elevated through the weekend and may be slow to stabilize.
Winds are forecasted to diminish today. NWS is calling for NE 3-13 mph today and about the same tonight.