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Sun, April 6th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Mon, April 7th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger has risen to MODERATE  above and below treeline for wet loose snow avalanches. Recent cloud cover and warming temperatures have softened the top several inches of the snow cover. Steep  Northerly aspects that harbored loose dry snow a couple days ago will be the most likely place for human triggered and natural wet loose avalanches to run. The potential for cornice falls has increased as well due to the recent warming.

Special Announcements

For those attending Arctic Man this year the CNFAIC will be there! We will be hosting an Avalanche Rescue Workshop on Thursday, April 10th. Details  HERE  – sign up soon as space is limited!!  

Sun, April 6th, 2014
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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

Yesterday marked the first real change in weather since mid-March. For the past 48-hours cloud cover and warmer temperatures have been baking the snow surface – both day and night. There were a handful of natural wet loose avalanches reported in steep North facing terrain in the Girdwood Valley yesterday. Some of these were reported to have been large enough to injure or bury a person. With last night’s slightly warmer temperatures leading into another warm cloudy (and drizzly) day today, expect to see similar wet activity.

The most likely aspects for wet slides will be terrain with a Northerly tilt. These slopes which had 2-8″ of dry faceted snow just a couple days ago are now becoming damp to wet and losing stability. These aspects have not undergone a melt/freeze cycle like the Southerlies and therefore should sluff easily for the next day or two, or until skies clear or the temperature cools. Below 1,500′ the snowpack is downright soggy and unsupportable on all aspects. Watch for wet loose avalanches on steep lower elevation slopes.

Though it looks like tomorrow or tomorrow night will be our best chance for a decent shot of snow (maybe…), below is a clip on how the snow surface and snowpack are holding up.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

The warming we have seen during the past two days has far surpassed that of the last 3 weeks. This is a prime de-stabilizing factor for cornices which are still looming, very unpredictable and dangerous. Continued avoidance will be especially good both from above and below.

Sun, April 6th, 2014

During the past 24-hours we have seen overcast skies and temperatures in the 35-45F range below treeline and ~25-30F at the ridge tops. Light rain has been falling below 1,000′ with light snow above – only a trace of snow has accumulated. Ridge top winds have averaged ~10mph with gusts to 20mph from the East.

Today should be another overcast day with light precipitation. We may see 2-3″ in ‘favorable locations’ above treeline (Portage Valley for instance) but for the Pass it looks to be just another dusting. The rain/snow line is expected to creep up to 1,500′ as temperatures will climb to the mid 40’sF at sea level and up to 30F on the ridgelines. Ridge top winds will be from an Easterly direction around 10mph with higher gusts.

It looks like sometime Monday or Monday night colder air will drop down from the North and combine with the large scale trough that is over us now to support a chance for increased precipitation (several inches of snow). Stay tuned.

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.