Snowfall boosts area avalanche hazard

The snowpack in the mountain needs time to adjust to the heavy snow load.

After Wednesday’s blizzard on the eastern peninsula, the avalanche danger has risen to “considerable,” according to Thursday’s avalanche forecast from the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

Considerable danger is the third out of five levels of danger used to measure the risk for avalanches in an area. In Turnagain Pass, the risk for avalanches is considerable at all elevations and human-triggered avalanches remain likely Thursday until Friday morning.

With all of the new snow, the snowpack in the mountain needs time to adjust to the heavy snow load.

There is snow from three storms sitting on top of “weak” snow, which formed over a long stretch of cold and clear weather, according to the information center.

The information center said that because of the additional snow, warming temperatures and sustained strong winds, 2-3-inch thick slabs now sit over the buried weak layers just waiting for a trigger.

“This set-up must be guilty until proven innocent.”

The Alaska Department of Transportation was working Thursday to reduce avalanche hazards on the Seward Highway, and warned travelers of intermittent traffic delays south of Girdwood.

The Avalanche Information Center is also cautioning recreators in the Seward area, which also received new snow after Wednesday’s blizzard.

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