Update: Thane Road in Juneau closed for avalanche control

Thane Road and Snowslide Creek
View of the Thane Road and Snowslide Creek avalanche chute on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Updated post — Thursday, March 18, 10:00 a.m.

Thane Road will be closed from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday for controlled avalanche mitigation activity.

The avalanche danger for the Juneau region was downgraded to “considerable,” or level 3, on Thursday morning. In the urban avalanche advisory, Tom Mattice wrote that “things have calmed down a great deal overnight.”

There was natural avalanche activity above Thane Road on Thursday, as well as above the Flume Trail and the Behrends Avenue path. The risk for larger slides in urban areas remains after high winds yesterday piled up new snow into a layer called a storm slab. These can trigger larger avalanches from the weak layer of snow underneath from earlier in the winter.

Original post — Wednesday, March 17, 12:40 p.m.

Thane Road will be closed Wednesday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. because of high natural avalanche danger.

State Department of Transportation officials say strong winds and warming temperatures will increase the likelihood of potential avalanches off Gastineau Peak.

If the avalanche danger remains high through Wednesday night, then the road closure may be extended. That could also delay any safe cleanup of the roadway if any avalanches reach Thane Road.

Tom Mattice, Juneau’s emergency programs manager, says there was evidence of two slides along Thane Road since this storm system started Monday night. One of the slides appeared to be several hundred yards wide. Snow from the slides did not reach the road.

In his urban avalanche advisory for Wednesday, Mattice says the avalanche danger remains ‘high,’ with over 21 inches of snow falling over the last two days in the region. He says he’s seen evidence of several avalanches since Monday night, including some slides off the north side of Mount Juneau that didn’t come all the way down.

The Coastal Alaska Avalanche Center reported a small cloud of snow from a slide in the Behrends Avenue avalanche chute around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, but no snow was observed reaching the road.

Mattice is asking for people to avoid the Flume Trail and the area beyond the gate in the avalanche chute behind the Behrends neighborhood near downtown.

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