Alaskan capital on edge after series of avalanches


This is the third time in about six weeks an avalanche has struck Mt. Juneau in the Behrends neighborhood of Juneau Alaska. But it was the first time Juneau native Carole Triem witnessed an avalanche in her life and was lucky enough to catch all the action on her cell phone. “I was leaving the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool when I happened to hear the sound of the avalanche before I looked up and then saw the snow coming down the mountain,” Triem said.

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Alaska’s capital city of Juneau is on alert after an avalanche sent a wall of snow and debris tumbling dangerously close to homes.

It’s the third time in about five weeks that an avalanche has hit the highlands neighborhood, city officials said. The danger may not be over — there is a “high avalanche” warning posted on the city’s website.

The avalanche Friday pushed snow to within feet of a home.

“At first it sounded like a huge dump truck or big equipment up the road, but then it got louder, and I looked up out my window, and through the trees I could see the snow flow moving down the hill,” resident Monty Tuhas told CNN affiliate KTVA.

Carol Triem had a different angle.

She was at the base of the mountain and videotaped the avalanche, posting her footage on social media.

“It sounded like thunder, which is something we really hardly ever get up here so I was surprised when I looked up and saw the beginning of the avalanche,” Triem said.

While there were no injuries or serious property damage Friday, Juneau’s avalanche forecaster Tom Mattice told CNN that recent weather has created dangerous conditions in the area.

“More snow last week and more rain this week … has added stress to the snowpack,” Mattice said.

Juneau has unique geographical and residential history.

“Southeast Alaskan mountains are young and dynamic — straight up and down,” Mattice said. Juneau was built at the base of two mountains, in a clearing made by mudslides and is located on a channel. Some people live directly in the danger zone.

“We have the potential for the greatest catastrophe of urban avalanche in North America,” Mattice reported.

But for now, his focus is on the current conditions and keeping a positive attitude about this most recent activity.

“It’s a good thing that the avalanche stopped short and got the mass off the hill. Hopefully the weak layers are gone,” Mattice said.

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