Turnagain Pass RSS

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Fri, November 29th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Sat, November 30th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Pockets of MODERATE  avalanche danger exist on steep, upper elevation slopes with recent wind loading. Winds have been consistently strong from the northwest and forming stiff, stubborn slabs in the foot deep category. Areas of most concern are steep slopes, approaching 40+deg, on south and easterly aspects. Otherwise, there is a  LOW avalanche danger in areas without recent wind deposited snow.

Below treeline the danger remains LOW  where 1-2ft of loose snow is capped by a breakable crust.

Special Announcements

All of Chugach National Forest remains closed to off-road motorized use due to a lack of sufficient snow cover.  Snowmachines will be permitted when the snow is deep enough to protect the ground underneath.

We need a couple more feet, give or take. Snow stake at Turnagain Pass shows one foot of snow.  

Fri, November 29th, 2013
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

Ah, the pesky northwest winds. These rolled in Wednesday night and blew much of the 3-6″ of new light snow either back to the atmosphere (sublimation) or into hard and stiff wind slabs. As can be seen in the picture below, the snow surface is a mixed bag of wind effect above treeline.

Photo: Seattle Ridge ~2,500ft

There were a few natural wind slab avalanches seen that likely released Wednesday night along with the onset of the wind. These were fairly small in size and on easterly aspects above 3000ft. The largest slab seen was on a SE facing slope around 3500ft – photo below. This is a classic catchment zone for the predominant NW flow.

For anyone getting out into the Alpine today, watch for areas of recent wind deposited snow and cracking around you. The slabs we found yesterday were scattered near ridgelines and stiff and stubborn – meaning hard to crack and release. However, in steep terrain these could pose a real issue by letting a person get out onto the slab before it releases. Even small slabs can be a problem if they knock you off your feet and down a steep rocky chute for example. Yet, most of us are waiting for more snow before getting into these places.

Fri, November 29th, 2013

Cold, clear and windy describes both yesterday’s weather conditions and as well as today’s. Over the past 24 hours temperatures continue to hover in the single digits in most locations while they are dipping down to the minus single digits above 3,000ft. We should not see much of a warm up, if any, in temperature throughout the day. The frigid Northwest winds have not backed off a whole lot and are forecast to continue to blow in the 10-15 mph range with gusts in the 30’s. It should be a bright sunny day however!

Our next shot of snow is on the distant horizon. There is a system forecast to move through for the middle of next week. As to what track it takes and how much snow we might get, it is still too far out to tell.

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.