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Warming temperatures raise avalanche danger

Avalanche danger is high in the Chugach.
Avalanche danger is high in the Chugach.(Alaska's News Source)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 1:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Rising temperatures throughout Southcentral Alaska are causing the mountain snowpack to transition quickly from dry to wet. The Chugach National Forest Information Center has placed the avalanche danger in Turnagain Pass at “high.”

The mountains near Girdwood and Turnagain Pass received between 1 and 4 feet of snow this week.

A special bulletin says avalanche danger will be highest in the afternoons and evenings as the slopes warm up, with high avalanche danger on south-facing slopes. The specific areas included are the Kenai and western Chugach Mountains near Girdwood, Portage, Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake, Lost Lake and Seward. The special bulletin is in effect through Sunday at 10 p.m.

Large natural avalanches are likely particularly on south-facing slopes and it is “very likely a person will be able to trigger a large avalanche,” according to the CNFAIC website. Avalanches have been observed over the past several days.

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-30s to high 40s over the weekend in the mountains.

According to the CNFAIC website, “large natural avalanches have the potential to bury popular hiking trails like Byron Glacier or Portage Pass trails. Travel on trails that cross under steep slopes is not recommended.”

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