Snow, wind and rain increase avalanche danger near Juneau

Published: Feb. 27, 2021 at 3:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Avalanche danger will increase in areas around Juneau going from “high” to “extreme” tonight, according to the City and Borough of Juneau, as more rain and snow move through Southeast. The Urban Avalanche Advisory says the potential exists for historic avalanches if the Behrends path releases at the full width and to the depth of the deep instability layer. Evacuation of the Behrends zone is recommended.

Heavy rain is expected in Juneau tonight with snow near Eagle Crest. This storm will keep temperatures at or above freezing through early next week and will likely deliver more than an inch and a half of rain in the lower elevations through early Monday. The greatest avalanche threat is from midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday. Heavy precipitation along with moderate winds will continue to add to the weight of the existing snow pack.

A layer of freezing rain before the most recent cold snap in the Southeast has left an unstable crust. Recent snowfall has landed on top of that crust creating the unstable layer. The advisory says one model predicts if a an approximately 4-foot slab releases across the Behrands Path, it will create enough energy to reach homes below. A 6.5 foot slab will reach the ocean, according to the model. According to the avalanche advisory, snow tests show a layer of instability approximately 4.9 feet deep.

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