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Sat, March 28th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Sun, March 29th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains LOW in the backcountry surrounding Turnagain Pass. Triggering a slab avalanche or wet avalanche is unlikely. Watch for glide cracks and limit exposure under them. A few glide avalanches released two days ago. Additionally, give cornices a wide berth.

Special Announcements

Hatcher Pass:  Please see Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center’s Saturday forecast and updated information at hpavalanche.org.

CNFAIC Update:  As Alaskans know, two statewide COVID-19 Heath Mandates were announced yesterday that go into effect today. Following both the Social Distancing and Intrastate Travel directives are critical for the health and safety of our communities at this time. CNFAIC operations and public safety products are being impacted, which are currently being evaluated. We will keep everyone up to date with any changes that may take place moving forward.

*For some fun at-home avalanche ‘geeking’ on your own or with your family and kids, check out our recent post HERE!

Sat, March 28th, 2020
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

A ‘Normal Caution’ avalanche regime exists in the backcountry surrounding Turnagain Pass and triggering an avalanche is unlikely. Temperatures have dropped to near 10°F along the ridgetops and near 20°F in parking lots overnight. This has frozen any remaining wet or moist snow and a stout crust can be expected at all elevations and aspects. Observers have reported that even on high elevation shady north aspects a melt-freeze crust exists; this was formed from the warm cloudy weather last Wednesday.

Glide avalanches:  Despite the low danger, glide avalanches could still pose a problem. Although the temperatures are cool, this type of avalanche could release at anytime and is not associated with a human trigger. Watch for glide cracks and limit any expose under them. A few glide cracks are beginning to open and several released on Thursday. Some of these were on Raggedtop in Girdwood Valley, below Tincan Proper and in Peterson drainage. It appears one glide crack may be opening up on Seattle Ridge to the left of the up-track.

Several glide avalanches popped below Tincan Proper on Thursday, 3.26.20. Note the one on the left side of the photo with debris that ran down to the valley bottom that almost covered ski tracks.


Avalanche Outlook for Sunday through next week:
Timing is everything during the spring. Beginning on Sunday, we head into a clear sky period with cold nights and warm(ish) days. Solar warming on southerly slopes, combined with light winds, may be enough to soften and melt surface crusts. Once the crusts melt and the cohesion is lost, avalanche danger will rise. Both wet loose and wet slab avalanches will become possible and this will be the key for avoiding avalanche issues during the coming week.

Wet loose avalanches:  Watch for daytime warming to soften surface crusts on steep southerly slopes. Once the snow is punchy and becoms saturated, wet sluffs will be easy to trigger. These can run much further than expected on large slopes and entrain a significant amount of snow.

Wet slab avalanches:  Similar to wet loose avalanches, once the surface crusts melt, wet slab avalanches will become possible. These could also have a dry slab character in the higher terrain where dry snow exists under the surface crust. Areas most suspect are those with a shallow snowpack harboring weak faceted snow in the mid and base of the pack, such as on the south end of Turnagain Pass and in the Summit Lake area.

Cornice falls:  Warming during the heat of the day can weaken cornices and make them more tender to trigger. Something to keep in mind for the remainder of the snow season.

Lingering wind slabs:  There still could be some lingering wind slabs in the high elevation rocky terrain that are not yet welded into place. Daytime warming can cause these to become more sensitive and as always, be wary of wind deposited stiff snow over weaker snow.

Sat, March 28th, 2020

Yesterday:  Partly cloudy skies were over the region yesterday. Ridgetop winds were light and northwesterly (5-10mph). Temperatures were cool and only warmed to the mid 30’s°F in parking lots while ridgetops in the mid 20’s°F.

Today:  Mostly to partly cloudy skies are forecast with a chance for a snow flurry or two with no accumulation. Cold air has moved in overnight with the moisture. This morning, air temperatures are between 10-15°F along the peaks and in the low 20’s°F in the low elevations. Daytime warming may bump these temperatures up 5-10 degrees, but it will still be a chilly day in the mountains. Ridgetop winds should be light and westerly (5-10mph).

Tomorrow:  Skies will be on a clearing trend for Sunday into next week. Temperatures look to remain chilly, dropping into the single digits overnight and warming into the 20’s°F during the day. Models are showing ridgetop winds remaining light and northerly for Sunday through Tuesday at this time.

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 26 0 0 63
Summit Lake (1400′) 28 0 0 29
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 23 0 0 72

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 15 W 7 21
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 18 NW 5 10
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This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.