Turnagain Pass RSS

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Fri, March 9th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 10th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, March 9th at 7am. This will serve as 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).


The avalanche danger in the core forecast zone is LOW. There are still a few of issues to think about including shallow wind slab, loose sluffing, and wet loose avalanches. All of these problems are only producing small avalanches and are confined to steep or extreme terrain. As always, expect to find variations if you venture into extreme terrain, higher elevation areas, or far outside of our core forecast area.


The avalanche conditions have not changed over the last several days. Weather has brought sunny skies, colder temperatures, and light wind. Our general concern is low, with a few problems to think about in steeper terrain.

Concern #1 – Wind Slab

We are finding pockets of shallow wind slab in a few places. At higher elevations, just off ridges, the wind slab can be found sitting on top of looser and weaker snow. We haven’t seen anything connect very large or react in an unpredictable manner, so it’s mostly just a heads up message to expect them.

Concern #2 – Loose snow

Sluffing in steep terrain continues to be significant. Yesterday we found a couple places on multiple aspects where the sluff was running big enough and fast enough to knock a skier off his or her feet. Sluff management techniques are definitely warranted in steeper terrain.

Wet loose avalanches have occurred over the last several days on the warmer South aspects. In lower elevation terrain, South facing slopes will be crusted over. Today, natural sun sluffs should be less likely because temperatures are expected to remain colder and the crust must be melted completely before the heat can penetrate deeper.

We did find widespread surface hoar yesterday from valley bottoms all the way to high ridges. For the most part, the bigger frost feathers were found in low angle and low elevation areas. Nonetheless, tracking this issue over the next days of clear weather will be necessary before the next snowfall buries this future weak layer. Any observations on surface hoar location and size will be appreciated.


We’ve had no new snow for the last several days and mostly sunny skies. Yesterday stayed cold in the mountains and only minimal melting on the sunny aspects was happening in the afternoon. Overnight, temperatures dropped even further. Sunburst station is reading 3 degrees this morning.

For today, a slight chance of snow shouldn’t contribute to avalanche problems. Wind should be light, except near Whittier and Seward. Temperatures are expected to stay below freezing again, so the chance of sun sluffs is less likely.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

I will issue the next advisory Saturday morning. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

Fri, March 9th, 2012
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.
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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.