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Sun, December 8th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Mon, December 9th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

We continue to have an overall LOW avalanche danger in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. Pockets of MODERATE danger may develop mid-day with surface warming on sunny slopes. Human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated areas where wet point release avalanches may become possible. These isolated areas are steep (more than 40deg) slopes with a southerly aspect.

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Please join us for the next installment of our  FREE  Fireside Chat series, €œHuman Factors in the Backcountry €   Tuesday December 10th at the Glacier Ranger Station in Girdwood.   More details can be found by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ tab above.

Sun, December 8th, 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
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
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.
More info at Avalanche.org

During the past two days we have seen a handful of wet point release avalanches due to our unseasonably warm spring-like weather. Yesterday they were confined to steep sunny slopes during the middle part of the day where the sun – yes, even as low as it is right now – was able to melt the surface crusts. Similar conditions should be on the radar today. This is a fairly straightforward avalanche problem to manage. Steer clear of any steep slope with wet, mushy and unsupportable snow. The clear skies overnight have likely refrozen the melted surfaces from yesterday but the sun coupled with the ambient above freezing temperatures may be enough to melt these southerly aspects again. 

Photo below is a wet point release avalanche on Tincan from yesterday 12/7 (SW, 3,500′). VIDEO HERE.

The slope has to be quite steep (over 40deg) for these avalanches to initiate but once they do they can gain enough momentum and run quite far. Debris can also be funneled through steep gullies and this can become a very real hazard for ice climbers. A report was sent in from the Portage Valley on Friday of an older debris pile near a popular ice climbing area.

Sun, December 8th, 2013

Valley fog covers most low-lying areas this morning as it did yesterday. Above the fog, skies are mostly clear and temperatures warm, in the 30’sF. Sunburst is reporting 38F at 6am and should remain in the 30’sF for the day along with most mid and upper elevations. Skies should be sunny today – again, above the fog – and winds light from the west.

This should be the last day of spring-like weather. Starting Monday cooler temperatures move in and Tuesday we have a chance for a few flurries as a weak system brushes by us from the west. It does not look like we will accumulate much in the order of snow with this system.

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.