Hatcher Pass Avalanche Forecast
Stale and generally safe avalanche conditions will continue to persist through the weekend.
The avalanche danger is LOW at all elevations and on all aspects.
We always recommend maintaining good travel protocol even in low danger conditions.
Conditions have improved with 2″ of new snow combined with faceted snow surfaces.
The best riding will be low angle “dust on crust” and locations with softened breakable crust.
No natural or human-triggered avalanches have been reported or observed since December 23rd.
Because there are no recent avalanche photos, enjoy these photos instead which show current conditions.
Triggering any size avalanche will be unlikely today.
It has been a month since Hatcher Pass has received any significant amount of precipitation. Despite this dry spell, conditions have actually improved this week. It seems crazy that we are excited about a minuscule 2″ of new snow this week. We’ll take anything we can get! Temperatures have fluctuated between single digits for several days followed by moderate temps in the teens and twenties. This has assisted the faceting process and softened snow surfaces in many locations. If you want to geek out and learn more about the snow metamorphism click here.
The only layer of concern is the facets at the base of the snowpack. Overall, our tests have shown increased stability over time, more consistent rounding of the individual grains, and little to no propagation in the basal facets. The last avalanche observed was 22 days ago on December 23.
Here is a pit from yesterday showing facets rounding at the base of the pack.
Firm conditions can still be felt underfoot in many locations but surface conditions are significantly more enjoyable. Low angle terrain or protected locations at low elevation in the trees will be the best riding this weekend.
We always want to use good travel practice, even with low danger. This means having good communication with our partners and using radios, only exposing one person at a time, having planned safe zone, and spotting our partners.
Our confidence is low for any reasonable amount of snow in the forecast this weekend. The low moving in today is not favorable for Hatcher Pass and might bring up to 2″ of new snow.
Avalanche Weather Guidance
National Weather Service Anchorage AK
431 AM AKST
DISCUSSION… The first of a series of northwest-moving shortwaves will move into the Kenai Peninsula later this morning, spreading snowfall into the eastern Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound region from south to north as the day progresses. Snow levels should remain well above sea level through tonight into Sunday, however, raw values listed below are likely running approximately 200 to 400 ft higher than what is realistic through Sunday morning and should be used with caution. Periods of snowfall will be possible for the Chugach Front Range and for Hatcher Pass from this evening through Sunday morning, but amounts are expected to be much lighter than areas favored for upslope enhancement with southeasterly flow across the eastern Kenai Peninsula and terrain surrounding Portage Valley. A more pronounced upper trough will lift north from the Gulf on Sunday, resulting in a decrease in precipitation intensity through Sunday evening after the wave passes to the north towards the Copper Basin and Susitna Valley. Forecast uncertainty increases substantially by Monday, with models diverging on the track of a low and front moving into western Gulf. Snow and low elevation rain may pick up intensity on Monday morning across terrain around Prince William Sound and the eastern Kenai Peninsula, depending on how quickly the next lows front is able to move north towards the Gulf coast.
NWS AVG Forecast here.
NWS point forecast here.
Marmot Weather Station here.
Independence Mine Snotel here.
State Parks Snow Report and Motorized Access information here.
XC trail grooming report for Mat-Su, Anchorage, and Kenai here.