With winter storms on the way, avalanche forecasters in Southcentral warn of dangerous conditions through the weekend

A skier in low-angle terrain remotely triggered a larger avalanche in Turnagain Pass on Sunday, November 22. (Henry Munter/Chugach Avalanche Information Center)

Forecasters are warning of dangerous avalanche conditions in the mountains around Southcentral Alaska.

“Things really are dangerous coming into this Thanksgiving holiday,” said Wendy Wagner, director of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. “And if you do go in the backcountry, really know if you’re in avalanche terrain because that’s where we don’t want to be. So we can be on the lower-angle slopes, but not those 30 degrees or steeper, or below those, where it could actually slide.”

According to the avalanche center, in Turnagain Pass, Girdwood and nearby mountains, avalanche danger is considerable Tuesday, and expected to rise to high Wednesday. That means large, human triggered avalanches are likely.

Wagner says avalanches of this nature occurred last weekend as skiers ventured into the mountains. She says luckily nobody was caught or injured in those slides. But, Wagner says it is “very likely” the conditions leading to last weekend’s avalanches will continue through the weekend and into next week.

The National Weather Service is forecasting multiple storms in Southcentral through the weekend. Storms are expected to bring high winds and a mix of rain and snow to the region through Wednesday night.

More snow is expected to fall in Southcentral Thursday night into Friday as temperatures drop. Wagner says the storms and resulting avalanche danger are likely to impact mountains throughout Southcentral.

“Anywhere that gets new snow, and even if there’s not much new snow but a lot of wind, that will increase the avalanche hazard,” said Wagner. “So this is looking like a region-wide setup where avalanche conditions will worsen.”

The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Information Center is also warning that avalanches will be likely following new snow accumulation in the forecast for Wednesday night.