Monday-Thursday 3/5-3/8

Issued: Mon, Mar 05, 2018 at 8AM

Expires: Thu, Mar 08, 2018

Choose routes that avoid windslab on steep slopes – if it sounds hollow, shoots crack, or collapses underfoot, you are on windslab. Talk about the consequences of the slope your group is committing to; is there a better option?

Above 2,500ft Considerable

1,800 to 2,500ft Moderate

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

Monday Tuesday Wednesday
& Thursday
2-moderate 2-moderate



Elevation:   Above 2000′
Aspect:   Lee of ridges, gullies, ridgetops
Terrain:   Upper elevation terrain exposed to wind
Sensitivity:   Responsive
Distribution:   Specific
Likelihood (Human Triggered):   Possible
Size:   Small – Large
Danger Trend:   Decreasing
Forecaster Confidence:   Fair

   Above 2500′
  35+ degrees steepness
Likelihood (Human Triggered): 
Small – Large
Danger Trend:
Forecaster Confidence:

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


SNOWPACK DISCUSSION:  A skiff of snow fell Saturday evening. Sunday, north outflow wind is picking back up, so expect redistribution of loose snow, building fresh windslab near ridgetops and channeled areas. High to extreme winds  Feb. 27 – Mar. 1 scoured exposed terrain and eroded into older snow layers.  The snowpack depth varies widely due to these wind events scourly down to rock and heather, while just lee of ridges there are pockets of windslab meters deep.

The Feb. 23-27 storms totaled 10″ (30cm) on the pass.  The Feb. 22 storm brought 4″ to Valdez and 6″ to the Pass and interior.  North wind transported that new snow, and built  windslab lee of ridges and gullies.

The combined effect of steady winds and sparse snow events has produced notable density and depth differences in the upper snowpack.  The cold, clear weather between the 1/15 and 2/13 storms grew a weak layer that the next storm snow did not adhere to very well.

Due to that layer of facets (sugar snow), 2-6′ (60-180cm) beneath the surface, a persistent slab concern still exists. We’re still tracking the distribution above 2500′ and our recent snowpit tests are indicating this layer may no longer be widespread.  The bottom line is that these persistent weak layers are stubborn to trigger, but due to depth, will have higher consequences if a rider, or riders, find the trigger point; be cautious near thinner areas near rocks and the edges of slabs.


Recent Avalanche Activity

There was a possible human triggered windslab avalanche Saturday in the Wortman’s area. No further details known at this time.

Feb.28 the rock bluffs near the Richardson Hwy hairpin at Milepost 23 popped off windslabs that covered the road.

Feb. 28 – Mar.1 Many naturally triggered windslab avalanches to size 2 released from ridgetops and crossloaded gullies in the mid and upper elevations.  See observations page for details.

Recent Weather

WEATHER FORECAST for NEXT 24 HRS at 3,000 ft:
Temperature Forecast (Min/Max *F): 0 / 20
Ridgetop Wind Forecast (direction/mph): N /5-25
Snowfall (in):  trace”
PAST 24 hours
Ferry Terminal Thompson Pass
Average Wind Speed (mph) / Direction  9 / NE   30 / NE
Max Wind Gust (mph) / Direction  32 / NE  52 / NE
Temperature Min / Max (*F)  23 / 39  0 / 20

Weather Forecast:    Clear skies becoming cloudy Monday with the developing chance of a snowflake accumulating to a trace Tuesday. Increasing likelihood of real snow Thursday through the weekend. Temperatures warming from below zero Monday north of Thompson Pass into the teens during the forecast period as the northerly outflow winds are overrun with a more southerly flow.

Additional Info & Media

SNOW HISTORY: Valdez 3/4 AM Thompson Pass 3/5 AM
24 Hour Snow / Water Equiv. trace”/ 0″ 0″ / 0″
Storm Snow /Water Equiv. (2/23-27) ~” / ~″ 10″ / 0.9″
Current Snow Depth 30″ 69″ wind scoured
March Snow / Water Equiv. trace″ / 0″ trace″ / 0″
Total Winter Snowfall / Water Equiv. 112.95″ / 24.38” 323″ / 33″
Snowload in Valdez 47 lbs/sq. ft.


SNOW DEPTH & WATER SURVEY (3/4/2018) Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Milepost 2.5 Valdez  32.2″  9″
Milepost 18 42″ 11″
Milepost 29 Worthington Flats 62.4″ 21.2″
Milepost 37 Tsaina River bridge 58.4″ 14.2″
This survey is done the first week of each month.

Weather Quicklinks:



  • 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 Continental Forecasts, Intermountain Forecasts, Maritime Forecasts.
Pete Carter

Forecaster: Pete Carter