Heavy snow and wind loading raise avalanche dangers
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The avalanche danger in Hatcher Pass has been raised to “high,” according to the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended for Sunday. Human triggered avalanches are “very likely” and natural avalanches are considered “likely.” According to the HPAC site, the Hatcher Pass road is closed at Gold Mint.
“This is an unusual set up for Hatcher Pass for April,” the announcement says. “Unfortunately, this problem is not going away and will likely get worse before it gets better.”
Six inches of heavy wet snow fell overnight in Hatcher Pass. The Avalanche Warning says winds out of the south-southwest saw gusts of 20 to 35 mph for 12 hours. An additional 5 to 12 inches of snow are possible today and continued wind gusts out of the west-northwest to 30 mph. The wind loads snow onto slopes. The HPAC says, “The key takeaway is that the current hazard is already elevated with slab avalanche problems and will be exacerbated with any additional new load today.”
For Turnagain Pass, the avalanche danger is at “considerable” about 2,500 feet. Avalanche danger is “moderate” for the lower elevations. Snow is expected at the higher elevations with rain and warm temperatures persisting at the lower elevations. “The increase in danger will depend partly on the amount of new snow we get,” says the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center web page. “But the increased winds will be enough to create sensitive slabs near ridgelines, below convexities, and in cross-loaded gullies.”
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