Center promotes avalanche awareness

The Chugach Avalanche Center in Girdwood will begin its daily forecasts Saturday.

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)

The Chugach Avalanche Center in Girdwood will begin its daily forecasts Saturday, according to a news release from the information agency.

Andrew Schauer, a lead forecaster at the center, said Wednesday that avalanche awareness and safety training is important for everyone who recreates in the Chugach National Forest backcountry and Turnagain Pass.

“Anyone who is getting out should be aware that there is some avalanche danger,” Schauer said.

Most avalanches occur during active snow and rain storms, he said.

One of the best ways for “hands-on” training is by taking an avalanche preparedness course, Schauer said, which teaches people about recognizing danger and proper safety equipment.

The Alaska Avalanche School has classes for recreators, snowmachine users and professionals. The website can be reached at alaskaavalanche.org.

According to the news release from the Chugach Avalanche Center, avalanche risk has been low recently but increased wind speeds this week may possibly affect snowpack movement.

The agency recommends people pay attention to snow surface texture, as wind slabs can create avalanches. This refers to an area in which wind deposits snow on ridges and peaks and creates hazardous avalanche conditions.

According to avalanche.org, people should be “suspicious of any steep slope with recent deposits or wind drifted snow.”

Schauer said the Chugach Avalanche Center also makes forecasts available on the agency’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as its website at chugachavalanche.org.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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