Forecasters issue special avalanche advisory for Valdez area
The Avalanche Information Center is done issuing advisories for the season, but forecasters have made an exception for the Valdez area -- which they say is currently at high risk for avalanches.
"Natural avalanches are certain, certainly going to happen and human triggered avalanches are likely," said Kyle Sobek, an avalanche forecaster who lives in Valdez. "We decided that conditions were particularly bad, so we decided to issue a special avalanche advisory just to remind people that you know, it's still winter in the mountains."
Sobek issued the advisory late Saturday, after the town received more than a foot of snow, and warns the risk level will likely remain high in the Valdez area and Thompson Pass-through Monday.
Sobek adds that the avalanche danger likely extends beyond Valdez, to include Hatcher Pass, Cantwell, and much of the Alaska Range.
"I think everywhere's had a lot of snow and it's pretty late in the year for getting this much new snow, and then it gets really warm, and you have avalanches when you get a lot of fresh snow and then it gets really warm, that's like a perfect recipe for an avalanche," Sobek said.
Sobek recommends avoiding avalanche terrain in the state altogether.
"I would recommend to stay away from slopes steeper than thirty degrees at this point in time. Maybe later in the week it might be a little different," Sobek said. "But I think right now we need to let things settle out before people are recreating in or near avalanche terrain."
On Wednesday, an avalanche at Blackstone Glacier, near Whittier, claimed the life of an Anchorage snow machiner -- the same day that another snow machiner narrowly escaped an avalanche in Hatcher Pass.
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