Friday-Monday 2/24-27

Issued: Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 8AM

Expires: Mon, Feb 27, 2017

Despite a low hazard day, maintain safe travel habits (1 at a time, limited exposure time, etc) and your situational awareness in avalanche terrain.

Avalanches are still possible in specific terrain, especially in higher elevations where wind loading on weak crystals is possible.

Above 2,500ft Low

1,800 to 2,500ft Low

Below 1,800ft Low

Degrees of Avalanche Danger ?

1. Low
2. Moderate
3. Considerable
4. High
5. Extreme

Avalanche Danger Rose ?

Avalanche Problems ?

Problem Details




Elevation:   Above 3000″
Aspect:  Various aspects due to shifting winds
Terrain:   Near ridges, gullies, rollovers
Sensitivity:   Responsive
Distribution:   Specific
Likelihood (Human Triggered):   Possible
Size:   Small – Large
Danger Trend:   Steady
Forecaster Confidence:   Fair

Sensitivity: Non-reactive, Stubborn, Responsive, Touchy
Distribution: Isolated, Specific, Widespread
Likelihood: Unlikely, Possible, Likely, Nearly Certain
Size: Small, Large, Very Large (size scale <here>)
Danger Trend: Increasing, Steady, Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence: Good, Fair, Poor



Maritime (Coastal) Specific: 

About an inch of soft snow has been added to the foot plus of dry snow from last week. All of this is resting on mid February’s rain crust down low, which transitions to firm slabs above the rain line ~2600′. A recent uptick in winds have started to drift and move the surface snow around more, especially on higher, exposed ridgelines.

A generally stable snowpack could shift as winds form new slabs over weak surface crystals. Over the long calm, clear and cold spell last weekend, widespread surface hoar and near surface facets formed throughout our region. Investigate how these weak crystals are reacting after being buried by firmer wind layers above. Evaluate and test new slabs readily, for these buried crystals can persist and lead to problems for extended periods of time….leading to unpredictable and large avalanches.

Crudbusters Surface Hoar to 6mm

As the sun rises ever higher above the horizon and hits previously shadowed terrain, consider the effects of solar radiation on southerly slopes. A slight change in slope angle in relation to the sun can impact the snowpack’s response dramatically. One can witness that the lower elevation steep southerlies above town and the airport have been warming and shedding due to the burning orb’s influence. Thick melt-freeze crusts on steep southerlies is predominant and providing a smooth bed surface to loose snow above.

Find more photos and observations at the bottom of the page. Sharing your observations creates an informed community that everyone benefits from at some point.

Recent Avalanche Activity

Maritime (Coastal) Specific: 

  • 2/13-14: Numerous wet avalanches below the rain line (+-3000′) around the Port.
  • 2/18: Natural sluff avalanches (loose snow) observed on sunny south facing aspects from solar radiation.

Recent Weather

WEATHER FORECAST for NEXT 24 HRS at 3,000 ft:
Temperature Forecast (Min/Max *F):  15 / 26
Ridgetop Wind Forecast (direction/mph):  Var / 10-25
Snowfall (in/water equivalent):  1-2″ / 0.1″
PAST 24 hours
Ferry Terminal Thompson Pass
Average Wind Speed (mph) / Direction  3 / NE  ? / Var
Max Wind Gust (mph) / Direction  8 / NE  ? / NE
Temperature Min / Max (*F)  22 / 35  ? / ?

Weather Forecast:    As skies cleared up, warm air aloft has created a strong inversion between town and the pass given light winds. A front will bring in some moisture that will hit us late Friday, clearing post, then followed by high clouds Saturday evening that will slowly dissipate on Sunday….only to build again Monday night. No significant precipitation in the near future.

Additional Info & Media

SNOW HISTORY: Valdez 2/26 AM Thompson Pass 2/24 AM
24 Hour Snow / Water Equiv.  0”/0″ 0″ /0″
Storm Snow /Water Equiv. (2/24)  0” /0″ 1″ /0.1″
Current Snow Depth 48″ 49″
February Snow / Water Equiv. 44.9″ /5″ 43″ / 5.1″
Total Winter Snowfall / Water Equiv. 222.8″ /20.9” 282″ / 27.7″
Snowload in Valdez ~ lbs/sq. ft.


Nicks Valley at 4200 ft (in): 0″ / 0″ / 0″
Upper Tsaina at 1750 ft (in): 0″ / 0″ / 0″
Sugarloaf at 550 ft (in): 0″/ 1″ / 0.1″
SNOW DEPTH & WATER SURVEY (2/1/2017) Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Milepost 2.5 Valdez  41.5″  9.8″
Milepost 18 43.9″ 9.5″
Milepost 29 Worthington Flats 61.5″ 16″
Milepost 37 Tsaina River bridge 42.1″ 9.3″
This survey is done the first week of each month.

Weather Quicklinks:

  • NWS forecast for Northeast Prince William Sound <here>
  • NOAA NWS spot forecast for Thompson Pass <here>
  • Thompson Pass RWIS weather station <here>
  • MP 30 Nicks (Happy) Valley weather station at 4200 feet <here> (scroll to Nicks Valley)
  • Valdez Glacier UAF weather station at 6600 feet <data here> <map here>
  • Further weather resources <here>


  • coastal-zone-iconMaritime (Coastal) – from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  • intermountain-zone-iconInter-mountain (Transitional) – between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  • interior-zone-iconContinental (Interior) – the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).

Photo of Thompson Pass


Interactive Map of Valdez Forecast Areas w/ Many Resource Layers (Trevor Grams)


Run Map of Thompson Pass Area (Sean Wisner) (2MB download)
VAC Run Map Thompson Pass

NEWS: Our region is “one of the snowiest places on earth” – Serendipity / Rendezvous snowfall record set in 1963 <here>.

Free smart phone avalanche forecasts at:

Posted in Maritime Forecasts.

Forecaster: Kevin Salys