Considerable avalanche danger for Juneau

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 9:59 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A combination of high winds, heavy snow and freezing rain have caused areas of unstable snow in Juneau, leading to a considerable threat for avalanches. Emergency Program Manager Tom Mattice wrote in his daily Urban Avalanche Advisory, that an Urban Avalanche Advisory is in effect until Wednesday, February 24, 2021.

While the recent calmer weather has allowed for the snowpack to gain a little strength, there still exists a weak layer underneath. This weak layer composed of freezing rain crust has already led to several natural avalanches over the last few days and with enough snow load still around, there remains a cause for concern.

The weak layers are widespread and are also leading to human-triggered avalanches of which Mattice wrote have been as deep as 4 to 5 feet. Because of these weak areas, avalanche hazard reduction work will be done above Thane Road Tuesday until noon closing the road. Drivers in the area could see an extended closure if an avalanche reaches the roadway, as it will take additional time to remove the debris. Additionally, one should avoid the flume trail and the gated areas above the Behrands Neighborhood.

As stated in the advisory both wind slab and deep persistent slab remain the two avalanche concerns. While the threat is on a downward trend for wind slabs, weak layers buried as deep in 7-plus feet in many places could lead to very large avalanches. This could potentially last for the remainder of the season.

Looking ahead, there is always cause for concern as new storms take aim on Southeast. With the deep persistent slabs, any new considerable loading could raise the level of concern.

As a reminder, a considerable avalanche danger means one should always be alert and make conservative decisions if one should travel in avalanche terrain. As always, make sure to always monitor avalanche forecasts.

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