Turnagain Pass RSS

Archives
ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Sat, April 20th, 2019 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sun, April 21st, 2019 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  MODERATE  for avalanches composed of the 6 – 12+” of new snow. On Northerly slopes above 2,500′ dry slab avalanches 6-18+” thick will be possible to trigger. On Southerly facing slopes and all aspects below 2,500′ wet loose avalanches are possible with daytime warming and solar radiation. Give cornices a wide berth and limit travel under glide cracks. The avalanche danger is expected to rise overnight and into Sunday as a warm storm moves in.

PORTAGE VALLEY:  Cornice fall and/or avalanches from above have the potential to send debris to valley bottoms. Traveling along summer hiking trails, such as the Byron Glacier Trail with steep slopes overhead is not recommended on rainy/snowy days or on sunny afternoons.

WHITTIER: Between 1-2 feet of new snow has likely fallen at the upper elevations in the Whittier Glacier region. Heads up as large human triggered avalanches are possible.

LOST LAKE / SEWARD:  Similar to Turnagain, dry slab avalanches could be a concern on high elevation northerly slopes.

Special Announcements
  • Advisories:  For the remainder of April, avalanche advisories will be posted 4 days/week (on Tues, Thur, Sat and Sun). The avalanche center will close for the season on Saturday, April 27th when we will post our springtime tips. Thank you everyone for tuning in!
Sat, April 20th, 2019
Alpine
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
  • Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

Anywhere between 6-16″ of new dry snow has fallen over the past 36 hours across the region. Girdwood Valley seemed to have picked up the most snow, with over a foot accumulating at the high elevations. Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake have both seen around 6-8″ of new snow. Easterly ridgetop winds have been 15-25mph, which is enough to load leeward slopes. That said, avalanche concerns will be relegated to the new snow. How much snow fell in the area you travel, how much wind loading occurred and how the new snow is bonding to the underlying surfaces are the questions today. High elevation northerly aspects are the most suspect for poor bonding as the new snow fell onto weak older snow and possibly surface hoar. If you are headed out today in hopes of the clouds breaking, keep the following in mind:

  • Dry slab avalanches up to a foot thick could be triggered on steep northerly slopes
  • Wind loaded slopes are more concerning as slab depths could be greater (1-2′ feet)
  • Listen/feel for collapsing in the new snow
  • Watch for cracking in the new snow
  • Quick hand pits are great ways to assess the new snow/old snow bonding
Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
  • Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

On all Southerly facing slopes and slopes below 2,500′ we can expect the new snow to stick rather well to the old soft/warm crusts. The concern here will be daytime warming and sunshine. Roller balls and wet loose sluffs should be expected as the new snow heats up and begins to roll and sluff off the mountainsides. The size of potential sluffs will be determined by the amount of new snow. Wet sluffs could become quite large and dangerous on slopes with up to a foot or more of new snow.

CORNICES: There are still large cornices along ridge tops. Give them lots of space as they can break farther back than expected.

GLIDE AVALANCHES: It’s been close to two weeks since our last known glide avalanche, but keep in mind glide cracks are continuing to creep down-hill. As always, limit traveling under their runout. They are unpredictable and can avalanche at any time.

Weather
Sat, April 20th, 2019

Yesterday:   Roughly 6-10″ of new snow fell over the region at all elevations late Thursday and early Friday morning, favoring Girdwood Valley. Light showers continued through the day adding another 1-3″. Ridgetop winds over the past 24-hours have been easterly 15-25mph with gusts to 40mph. Temperatures have been in the 20’sF along ridgetops and near 30F at 1,000′.

Today:   Clearing skies and lingering clouds are expected today before a third round of precipitation pushes in tonight. Ridgetop winds should be in the 10-20mph range from the east today and bumping up to the 30’s tonight. Temperatures are on a warming trend and may reach 40F at 1,000′ today with ridgetops in the upper 20’sF.

Tomorrow:   Stormy wet weather is on tap. Rain up to 1,500 – 2,000′ is expected tomorrow with 6-12″ of snow above this. Up to 16″ of snow could fall in favored areas such as Portage Valley and Girdwood. Ridgetop easterly winds will be in the 30-40mph range with gusts over 50. Unsettled and wet weather looks continue into the workweek.


Thanks to our NWS partners for their graphic of QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast), which is the water amount expected through Sunday. A general rule of thumb is 1″ of water = 10″ of snow. Of course it has to cold enough for snow and this event is expected to bring rain up to 1,500′ with snow falling at the higher elevations.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 34 1 0.2 65
Summit Lake (1400′) 32 3 0.3 20
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 30 3 0.4 62

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 20 SE 15 40
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25 *N/A *N/A *N/A
Observations
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/16/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst/Magnum
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
11/13/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
11/12/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/12/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Goldpan – avalanche
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Taylor Pass – Sunburst
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
Riding Areas

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.