Warmer weather could increase Kenai Peninsula avalanche threat

a mountain
Springtime weather could increase avalanche hazards on the Kenai Peninsula. (From Andy Moderow/Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center)

With warmer weather in the immediate forecast, recreationists on the Kenai Peninsula should exercise caution and consider the threat of springtime avalanches. While last weekend’s avalanche forecast was expected to be low, the threat could increase on sunny days this week.

“It really depends on how the weather sets up to how quickly the snowpack makes the transition and destabilizes, and causes those big avalanches,” said Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center director Wendy Wagner.

Areas most prone to avalanches are those under steep slopes, which is where many summertime hiking trails on or near the Kenai Peninsula are located. Areas near Portage or Devil’s Pass have some of the highest avalanche likelihood.

Wagner says the center saw numerous avalanches in the region earlier this month in areas with no known foot traffic.

“Anytime you see a recent avalanche, there’s a good chance another avalanche like that can happen,” she said. “So just observing, looking around where you are, seeing if there’s any avalanches in the area you are is a really great way to know if the mountains are dangerous that day.”

Avalanches are most likely to occur on warm, sunny days or during winter storms. You can view an avalanche forecast on the avalanche center’s website.

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