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Mon, March 18th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Tue, March 19th, 2013 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is LOW today.   Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely at all elevations.   Cornice fall, small loose snow avalanches and isolated pockets of shallow wind slab are potential issues you might encounter.   Sun and warming could weaken the snow surface enough to create small wet loose avalanches in steep sunlit terrain.

Mon, March 18th, 2013
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

LOW hazard does not mean ‘no’ hazard.  With continued clear and pleasant weather lately many people have been getting into steep terrain in more remote areas.  Whenever traveling in a new area it is best to pay attention to the snow, despite the current overall good stability.  Start by looking for obvious signs of instability (recent avalanches, shooting cracks, or whoompfing), and then test & get a feel for the snow.  Anomalies exist and it is good practice to be ready for them through snowpack observations and safe travel practices.  Here are some of those anomalies you might encounter today.

Loose Snow
Yesterday my partner and I were able to produce low to medium volume sluffs in steep terrain.  On terrain less than 40 degrees in steepness the loose surface snow did not want to move.  Make sure you recognize when sluffing is occurring and manage your terrain accordingly (get out of the way of moving snow).  With slightly warmer temperatures expected today some low volume sluffs could become damp, especially at the lower elevations.

We have seen several large cornice drops during the month of March, though nothing has been reported or observed in the last week.  Many South and Southwest slopes have large cornices looming above them.  Avoidance and minimizing your exposure to these areas is the best way to stay out of trouble.

(Old) Wind slabs
There is a remote chance of finding an old pocket of wind slab sitting on buried facets or surface hoar.  Yesterday we encountered areas where wind slab existed; tests and ski cuts produced no significant results.
Despite the overall stability picture, you will be best served by continuing to pay attention to the snow through observation and testing.

Mon, March 18th, 2013

Clear, cold and calm has been the weather pattern over the last several days.   The last precipitation came 4 days ago.   Temperatures were cool yesterday, with the Sunburst station (3,880′) averaging 10.8 degrees F.   Winds were light, averaging 5 mph out of the NW.

Today should be another pleasant day in the mountains!   Expect clear skies and slightly warmer temperatures than yesterday.   Temps at 1,000′ should reach into the mid to upper twenties F.   Winds will remain light out of the North at 5mph.

This stable weather pattern looks to remain in place for at least the next several days and possibly through the week.

Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, March 19th.

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
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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.