Avalanche as I was leaving the pool this morning.

Posted by Carole Triem on Friday, March 31, 2017

An avalanche above a Juneau neighborhood early Friday was at least the second in the same area this month in what local officials say is a period of increased danger.

Carole Triem, who saw the slide on a slope above Juneau-Douglas High School, said it occurred at about 6:30 a.m. as she was leaving the adjacent Augustus Brown Swimming Pool. She posted video of it to her Facebook page.

"It looked like there was a lot of water as well," Triem said. "It was like an avalanche and waterfall, was what it looked like."

A Friday overview of Juneau avalanche conditions, written by Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center director Tom Mattice, said danger was high for the day due to a persistent weak layer of snow, recent precipitation and temperatures near 40 degrees. He advised locals to avoid hikes in avalanche areas, including the Flume Trail and gated areas above the Behrends neighborhood.

Mattice, who is also the city's emergency programs manager, said no injuries were reported in the slide, which came down a 2,500-foot avalanche chute. The avalanche – at least 100 yards wide and 10 to 20 feet deep – stopped about 30 feet from homes in the Behrends area, near a dead end on Judy Lane with gated-off drainage ditches.

"The gate actually got crushed," Mattice said. "I said, 'Don't walk above the gate'; the snow went about 15 feet past the gate and ripped the gate apart."

Debris from a Friday avalanche stretches across a dirt road near Juneau-Douglas High School. The slide came close to several homes. (Nathaniel Herz / Alaska Dispatch News)
Debris from a Friday avalanche stretches across a dirt road near Juneau-Douglas High School. The slide came close to several homes. (Nathaniel Herz / Alaska Dispatch News)
 
 
 
 
 

Capital City Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Ed Quinto said fire crews were called to the area at about 8 a.m., some time after the avalanche had occurred.

"The slide came down and hit a van but didn't cause any damage to the van," Quinto said.

Triem, who has lived in the area near the slide for a few years, said she's heard of several avalanches above Juneau and the Eaglecrest Ski Area on nearby Douglas Island this winter.

"This is the most avalanche-y year I've seen," Triem said. "I was thinking about buying a house just inside the avalanche zone — I'm glad I didn't do that."

Residents have generally been aware of recent avalanche danger, Mattice said, despite a recent lull in high-profile slides. He urged people to avoid avalanche terrain during the weekend's rise in temperatures.

"People go out and they think, 'Oh, nothing's happened in the last few weeks so it should be OK,' but they forget this weak layer's still there," Mattice said. "We're getting a lot of rain and warming, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see some more slides today."

A natural avalanche occurred in the same area on March 3. Police said there were no injuries in that slide.

ADN reporter Nathaniel Herz contributed reporting.