Warm and windy conditions bring the threat for avalanches
For the first time since Monday, temperatures across Southcentral soared above the freezing mark. This comes as a storm system lifting from the south continues to pump in significant warmth and moisture to the region. Winds along Turnagain Arm and higher elevations have lead to rapidly warming temperatures that are approaching 40 degrees in many spots above 1000'. Lower elevations are still hovering in the mid-30s, but temperatures are expected to steadily rise through the night. Because of the extreme warmth and windy conditions we've seen, avalanche danger remains a serious concern.
According to the Chugach National Forest, a person was buried alive Saturday afternoon in the Glen Alps. The person was buried for nearly an hour and a half before another hiker found two legs or feet sticking out of the snow. The Chugach National Forest says the rescuer started digging out the other hiker who was alive but very cold. This threat will greatly increase through the rest of the weekend, as temperatures and winds will continue to increase.
We'll continue to see those winds out of the southeast gusting up to 55 mph along Turnagain Arm. It's these winds that are a significant driver in our warmth, with temperatures expected to slowly climb through the night. For the first time since earlier this week temperatures likely will not fall below the freezing mark into the night. With this being the case, any moisture that drifts north through the night will fall as rain. For now the Anchorage Bowl will likely see the rainshadow effect leading to little rain for most of us through the night.
However, some moisture could squeeze through and some light rain is possible through the night before tapering off into Sunday morning. Once the rain tapers off sunny skies will be prevalent for the first part of Sunday. This along with our continued warmth pushing in from the southeast will lead to temperatures topping out near 40 degrees. This will put our snow depth in jeopardy across Southcentral, with many areas already seeing some melting.
The sun will be brief for the first part of Sunday before our next storm system takes shape. This one will bring even stronger winds overnight Sunday into Monday, where winds will likely gust anywhere from 80 to 90 mph along the Western Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm.
Be careful this weekend if you plan to go out in the backcountry and let others know where you are going. This warming trend brings a significant increase in seeing avalanches in the coming days.
Have a great Sunday!
-Meteorologist Aaron Morrison