Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sun, November 17th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Mon, November 18th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Current snowpack conditions as we head into the latter part of November are thin – very thin. Few folks have made it south of Anchorage for snow recreation and are instead venturing north with the bigger early season snowfall. That will change……right…..it’s only November after all.

A snapshot of our snowpack both above treeline and below are seen in the photos below. The majority of the snow is very loose and unsupportable, except for areas that have seen recent wind.  

Conditions above treeline:

Conditions below treeline:

Special Announcements

With minimal snow cover on the ground in the Turnagain Pass area, we are still issuing intermittent updates. Full advisories, 4-5 days a week, will begin with the next good storm system – hopefully not too far away. Starting in early December we will be fully funded and staffed with the arrival of John Fitzgerald (aka “Fitz”) and  7 day a week forecasts will begin.

Sun, November 17th, 2013
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
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
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind 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.
More info at Avalanche.org

For anyone venturing into the Turnagain area mountains, wind slab avalanches are what to watch for. Despite the strong northwesterly winds during the last 24 hours, which did a number around Turnagain Arm, there is still plenty of loose snow available to blow around. This can be attested to by the lack of wind damage above 3300ft on Tincan today. The wind slabs I did see were at the mid elevations, very stiff and cracking just around my feet. However, they were sitting on faceted snow and though I didn’t find any in the few starting zones I was able to get to, I’d keep a look out for them. Winds are forecast to continue over the weekend from the north and northeast. Below is a picture of the mid elevation wind damage:

Sun, November 17th, 2013

This past week most of Alaska’s wet weather has been just to our north. The temperatures did climb mid-week, up to 32F at 2,500′, but are on their way back down to the teens now. The last 24 hour winds have been moderate to strong from the northwest. These should continue to be moderate with strong gusts from the north and east for the next several days or more. This will do a good job of ushering in the cold temperatures that are on tap. Our next chance for snow is not in the foreseeable future.

The National Weather Service in Anchorage has done a great job at summing up the weather for next week:


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.