Outdoors/Adventure

Avalanche warnings in backcountry as Southcentral gets more snow

A backcountry avalanche warning was issued for Hatcher Pass this weekend as Anchorage residents woke up to piles of fresh snow.

The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center warned of dangerous avalanche conditions in the popular recreational area in the Talkeetna Mountains. The warning started at 6 a.m. Saturday and remains in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday.

"Recent heavy snow combined with wind will likely create widespread areas of unstable snow," forecasters said in a bulletin posted by the National Weather Service. "Backcountry travelers should stay off ... slopes steeper than 30 degrees" or the bottom of such slopes.

Hatcher Pass has seen about 2 feet of fresh snow since Thursday.

In both Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, Friday's fast-moving storm dropped a half foot of new snow on average, according to weather service bulletins. A winter weather advisory remained in effect Saturday morning until 3 p.m. for Palmer, Wasilla, Sutton and Chickaloon, and until noon in Anchorage. Smaller accumulations of between 1 and 3 inches of snow were expected during the day.

Warnings about backcountry travel were also issued for the Chugach National Forest on Saturday. Girdwood and Turnagain Arm picked up between 6 and 10 inches of new snow in Friday's storm, Chugach Avalanche Information Center forecasters wrote in a Saturday post.

The avalanche center also said that Friday marked the first reported human-triggered avalanche of the season. A skier triggered a slide in the Summit Lake area of the Kenai Peninsula, on Tenderfoot Ridge, according to forecasters.

"Although the snow cover is shallow, it can still be unstable," avalanche forecasters wrote in the post. The avalanche center said slopes with little wind effect and smaller amounts of new snow were safest for recreation.

To find avalanche information in the area closest to you, check avalanche.org. General information about how to avoid avalanche hazards can be found on the National Avalanche Center website.

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