Storm packing heavy snowfall, avalanche risk headed for Portage, Moose Pass areas

Michelle Theriault Boots
Bob Hallinen

Parts of the Kenai Peninsula could see 2 feet of snowfall by Tuesday morning from a winter storm avalanche forecasters have described as "potent."

The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the eastern Turnagain Arm area Monday, saying that a winter storm with "abundant precipitation and high winds will create very unstable avalanche conditions."

The warning covers the Kenai and western Chugach mountains in and around the eastern Turnagain Arm area. It doesn't include ski areas, highways or railroads where avalanche mitigation work is done, according to the center.

The avalanche warning expires at midnight Tuesday.

The Kenai Peninsula around Moose Pass and north will receive nearly a foot of snowfall on Monday, said National Weather Service hydrometeorological technician Michael Kutz.

"Tonight probably another 5 or 6 inches will fall," he said. "Tomorrow, probably 5 or 6 inches more."

Girdwood is on the edge of the storm system and will see about half the snow forecast for the Moose Pass area, he said.

The Portage Valley and Turnagain Arm will see the worst of associated winds, between 30 and 45 mph forecast today and overnight. Gusts could reach 50 to 60 mph.

"The winds should ratchet down tomorrow," Kutz said.

The storm is expected to move toward Valdez and eastern Prince William Sound on Tuesday.

Snow flurries are expected in Anchorage intermittently Monday afternoon and overnight. 

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.

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