Forecasters issue warning of high avalanche dangers

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - According to officials with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, there are high levels of avalanche danger from Hatcher Pass to Seward.

The Church National Forest Avalanche Information Center said there is a high danger level for avalanches from Hatcher Pass through Seward. Courtesy CNFAIC

“That means natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches are very likely,” said Aleph Johnston-Bloom, avalanche specialist, Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

Johnston-Bloom recommends that you do not go into the mountains or avalanche terrain until the danger level goes down.

“We're saying don't go out,” she said. “Enjoy work. Go to Alyeska, have a good time. Away from the mountains away from avalanche terrain.”

Freshly fallen snow may be tempting to skiers, but underneath it is a layer of weak snow, according to Johnston-Bloom.

The cold stretch of weather and clear in January formed a layer of weak snow underneath the freshly fallen snow.

“Now underneath this huge slab of snow is this really weak foundation,” Johnston-Bloom said.

Johnston-Bloom said it is difficult to say when danger levels will go down.

“This is called a persistent weak layer. It can be dangerous a few days after a storm. A few weeks after the storm or potentially months after the storm. So you need to make sure you're checking the avalanche forecast,” she said.

Officials warn those recreating below slops and in flats as well that they must be mindful of surrounding slopes.

A forecast updated daily on the CNFAIC website.

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