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Mon, March 31st, 2014 - 7:00AM
Tue, April 1st, 2014 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

With no substantial change in the weather again today the avalanche danger will continue to be pegged at LOW for all aspects and elevations in the advisory area.

Beyond your standard safe backcountry travel protocol, cornice failure and low volume loose snow avalanches will again be the primary concerns for today.

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Mon, March 31st, 2014
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
  • Cornice
Cornice Fall is the release of an overhanging mass of snow that forms as the wind moves snow over a sharp terrain feature, such as a ridge, and deposits snow on the downwind (leeward) side. Cornices range in size from small wind drifts of soft snow to large overhangs of hard snow that are 30 feet (10 meters) or taller. They can break off the terrain suddenly and pull back onto the ridge top and catch people by surprise even on the flat ground above the slope. Even small cornices can have enough mass to be destructive and deadly. Cornice Fall can entrain loose surface snow or trigger slab avalanches.
More info at Avalanche.org

It’s been 16 days now since the climax of our March avalanche cycle where up to 5 feet of snow fell across the zone in a 5-day period.  The weak layers underlying that slab have since adjusted to the load and we’ve experienced exceptional stability as of late throughout the core advisory area.  That being said, there are still a few springtime concerns that garner attention.


A cornice failure is – by far – the most dangerous avalanche problem in the backcountry currently. Cornice falls are very hard to predict but we do know they are more likely to fail as the day heats up.  During this extended high pressure, with warm daytime temps and light winds, large overhanging cornices will continue to ripen toward likely failure.  As always, minimize your time spent underneath or near corniced ridges by giving them an extra wide berth when travelling below or ridge-walking.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Dry Loose
    Dry Loose
Dry Loose
Dry Loose avalanches are the release of dry unconsolidated snow and typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. These avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs.
More info at Avalanche.org

Surface snow on non-solar aspects continues to facet and rot-out.  This is making for great surface conditions on north aspects considering it hasn’t snowed in well over two-weeks.  Sluffing may prove a concern in steep, high consequence terrain for knocking a skier or boarder off their feet.  This is less of a concern if you’ve got a motor underneath you, as any snow moving will be low volume.

On steep solar aspects a skier or rider may be able to initiate a wet snow slide as these slopes heat up late in the day.  Once again these will be low in volume but potentially dangerous in high consequence terrain such as above a terrain trap

“Heads Up” conditions in steep terrain:
There are plenty of steep slopes with firm surfaces that require a healthy amount of careful and focused travel.  A fall in steep terrain could result in loss of control of a snowmachine or be difficult for skiers or snowboarders to arrest.  Pay attention to the snow surface and continually assess and re-assess as you travel through the mountains today.

Mon, March 31st, 2014

Abundant sunshine and comfortable temperatures seem to be the norm for us here in south central AK this March.   Let’s hope we are this lucky in June, July and August!   Ridgetop winds kicked up slightly yesterday from the northwest though not quite enough to make snow transport a concern.   At lower elevations along Turnagain Arm, local gap winds were observed with a peak gust of 50mph in Whittier.   Temperatures were pleasant again reaching into the mid-30’s at 1,000′.

We have a similar day on tap today with temps topping out in the mid-30’s again and a northwest wind in the 0-10mph range.   Persistent sunshine continues as the blocking high-pressure ridge over central Alaska endures, keeping the Aleutian low to our west at bay (see below).   Look for the March weather summary in Wendy’s forecast tomorrow morning.

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.