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Winter storm prompts Backcountry Avalanche Warning

Warm, wet and windy conditions creating unstable snow
All elevations have a high risk of avalanches due to recent warm, wet and windy conditions.
All elevations have a high risk of avalanches due to recent warm, wet and windy conditions.(Alaska's News Source)
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 10:02 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A winter storm that is affecting much of Southcentral is also leading to extremely dangerous avalanche conditions in the backcountry.

Earlier Tuesday morning, the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center in Girdwood issued a Backcountry Avalanche Warning. The areas included are the Western Chugach and Kenai Mountains in and around Girdwood, Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake, Lost Lake and Seward.

Warm, wet and windy conditions have led to an increase in heavy snow along with rain, creating widespread areas of unstable snow. The center warns that both human triggered and natural large avalanches are likely on slopes steeper than 30-degrees. Any avalanches that do occur could have debris run into the valley bottoms.

All elevations have a high risk of avalanches due to recent warm, wet and windy conditions.
All elevations have a high risk of avalanches due to recent warm, wet and windy conditions.(Alaska's News Source)

It’s strongly advised that you don’t travel through the backcountry while the warning is in effect. If you do so, make sure to stay away from and out from underneath any slopes that are greater than 30-degrees. The warning covers all elevations of mountains, as nearly three to four feet of heavy wet snow has fallen and is overloading a weak snowpack. According to the center, at least two avalanches have already occurred since Sunday.

The incoming warm weather will also lead to an increased risk of roof avalanches. It’s important that as temperatures continue to climb and stay above freezing that you pay attention to where you walk and any people or pets that are in the way of potential roof avalanches.

While the warning remains in effect through 6 am Wednesday, avalanches will remain on the higher side until colder air returns to Southcentral.

Wednesday is expected to see much of the same conditions, as temperatures remain above freezing. However, by week’s end, colder air spills back into Southcentral with temperatures expected to fall back into the teens for highs.

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