|Fri, December 15th, 2023
|Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
|Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
|Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential.
|Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
|Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
|Likelihood of Avalanches
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely.
|Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible.
|Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
|Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely.
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
|Avalanche Size and Distribution
|Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain.
|Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas.
|Very large avalanches in many areas.
Numerous dry loose (sluffs) were observed on Wednesday on all aspects on slopes steeper than 40º. These likely occurred at/near the end of storm 12/12.
A few older slab avalanches were observed Wednesday which likely occurred on 12/10-11. These were not visible earlier in the week due to poor visibility. The crowns are still visible but covered up with 4-8″ of new snow from the past few days.
|Size (D scale)
|Unlikely to bury a person
|Can bury a person
|Can destroy a house
|4 & 5
|Can destroy part or all of a village
Cold temps overnight and through the day will keep DRY LOOSE a problem and on our radar for todays avalanche problem. Expect sluffs to be POSSIBLE to human trigger on steep slopes, greater than 40º, on all aspects, at all elevations. Any slopes previously affected by the 12/10-11 wind (above 3500 ft) OR affected by 11/23-24 rain (below 3500 ft) will have firm bed surfaces and be easier locations to trigger a sluff.
Small incremental storms brought approximately 10 to 12 inches of new snow to Hatcher Pass since last Saturday. Strong winds followed, redistributing some of the new snow. Wind slabs that formed have become mostly unreactive and stubborn but can most definitely be felt underfoot while skiing and riding, especially on West to Southwest aspects at mid and upper elevation where winds gusted 30-39mph for 15 hours on 12/10-11.
Getting caught in a dry loose avalanche in steep terrain may sweep you into terrain traps compounding the overall hazard. We mention this often because a significant amount of the terrain at Hatcher Pass involves navigating in, around, or above terrain traps.
We recommend avoiding terrain traps, skiing/riding one at a time, using appropriate safe zones, and using appropriate sluff management techniques.
Outlook for the next storm:
More precipitation is in the forecast for Friday.
Buried weak sugary facets and facet/crust layers are still buried and exist in specific locations, mostly below 3500 ft. These slabs will be unlikely to trigger today but not impossible. Pay attention to this structure and where it exists in the snowpack. High end storm totals for Friday could potentially overload these weak layers.
Although HP only has approximately 3 ft of snow, cornices on leeward aspects have grown in size over the past week. Use caution and give cornices a wide berth when travelling in and around them.