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Wed, December 25th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Thu, December 26th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

For slabs that are persistent and snow not quite consistent, a MODERATE avalanche Danger exists for skiers and snowmachiners amiss.   Above tree line today a small wind slab may prove your biggest concern for Xmas-going fun seekers in Turn-again.   Below tree line, the danger is LOW where the snow on the ground is mostly stable and sound.

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We are truly grateful for the support we have from our community this holiday season!  Merry Christmas from the CNFAIC staff to you and your families as we wish you all a fun and safe holiday of backcountry pursuits!

Wed, December 25th, 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
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

A generally poor structure to our snowpack is keeping the persistent slab our primary concern again today.  Avalanche activity appeared to peak on Sunday with two human triggered avalanches in the Turnagain area.  Cold temperatures and a lack of weather today will allow our snowpack to further adjust, however it doesn’t take long to dig down to the ground to recognize the problematic weak layers that lie beneath our slow-to-build slab.  Since the drizzle crust of December 7/8 (17 days ago) we have received 2.3 inches of water, which translates to about a 16-inch slab.  Snow pit tests yesterday were consistently failing at this interface of faceted snow directly above the crust.

Small spells of moisture thus far have allowed our snowpack to adapt a little at a time, not overloading weak layers to the point of widespread natural avalanching yet.  Add a skier or snowmachiner into the equation on steep, wind loaded terrain and producing an avalanche may be possible today.  Specifically in the higher elevations where the wind has produced a deeper, heavier slab that overlies this same basic poor structure.  

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

Monday morning we did have a short lived, natural wind slab avalanche cycle where strong winds proved enough to overload weak layers.  In higher elevation areas it’ll be possible to find pockets of dense wind slabs 1-2’ deep on the lee side of wind-raked ridges.  Pay particular attention to firm, hollow sounding snow on south, east and west aspects.  These slabs may sit mid-slope given the moderate to strong winds that blew through our region on Monday and Tuesday.

Wed, December 25th, 2013

Yesterday cloudy skies in the afternoon produced just a trace of new snow in eastern Turnagain Arm as a series of low-pressure systems skirted us to the south.   Winds shifted to a more easterly direction but still blew moderately yesterday.   Temperatures stayed cold at sea level due to a weak temperature inversion and gradually grew warmer with elevation topping out in the low-teens on Sunburst.

Don’t expect a Christmas miracle in the form of new snow today.   Rather we seem to have fallen under another persistent high-pressure ridge that appears to be with us at least until the weekend.   There is a decent temperature inversion in place this morning with temps ranging from 2 degrees in Portage to 20 degrees at the top of Sunburst.   Winds appear to again shift back to a northwest orientation today blowing in the 10-20mph range.  

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.