Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sat, February 7th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Sun, February 8th, 2015 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW in the Treeline and Alpine elevations today.   Isolated pockets of 6-8 € wind slab may be encountered in the highest elevations around the Girdwood Valley.   It is in these isolated areas, on the periphery of the forecast zone, where the danger is MODERATE.

Special Announcements

Attention Ladies:  SheJumps, CNFAIC, and Alyeska Resort are joining forces to host a 2 hour avalanche companion rescue clinic at Alyeska Resort on Sunday, Feb.8 from 1pm-3pm. This is a free clinic for ladies only, and is a great place to practice your beacon skills. Click  HERE  for more info.

Sat, February 7th, 2015
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

It has now been three weeks since the snowpack received any significant load.  In those three weeks a total of 4” of snow fell in 1” increments.  Temperatures have remained seasonable and winds have for the most part been calm.

What this all adds up to is a snowpack that is generally well adjusted.  Triggering an avalanche is possible, but falls into the “outlier” category. 

Low volume loose snow avalanches can be triggered on very steep (>40 degrees) sustained slopes.  Watch your sluff and steer away from it, especially around terrain traps. 

Isolated pockets of recently formed wind slab 6-8” in depth may be found in the higher elevations around the Girdwood Valley.  If you make it into these areas, be on the lookout for stiff and hollow sounding snow on steep leeward slopes.

Glide cracks are scattered throughout the forecast area.  Minimize time spent under glide cracks as they can release without the normal warning signs.

Aside from these snowpack issues you can expect to encounter firm and icy conditions on approaches (see photo below) with rocks and stumps being obstacles to avoid while exiting the mountains.

Icy Tincan approach

Sat, February 7th, 2015

A much anticipated wind event for Southcentral AK took place over the last 24 hours.   Fortunately Turnagain Pass was spared in this outflow event.   We found winds to be calm on ridgetops while in the field yesterday.   Light plumes coming off of the higher peaks around the Girdwood, Twentymile, and Portage Valleys could be seen occasionally during the day.

Wind in mountainous terrain is not straightforward. Pictured here are plumes coming off a peak above Twentymile from North winds on Feb 6th. The wind anemometer at sea level shows winds out of the South. photo: Fitzgerald


Temperatures were cold, with ridgetops averaging in single digits F.

Today will be a cold one, with temps to remain in the single digits F at ridgetops.   Winds will be light out of the North at 5-10mph.   We may see some high clouds streaming in from the East as a result of Low pressure spinning in the Gulf of Alaska.

The extended outlook is showing a welcome change in the overall pattern.   High pressure that has dominated lately will break down and allow for moisture to make its way to the area.   The next chance for accumulating snow will come by Tuesday or Wednesday of the coming week.

*Alyeska Mid station data 7am-2pm due to station malfunction.

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 12 0 0 31
Summit Lake (1400′) 0 0 0 7
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 10 0 0 21*

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 6  ENE 7 23
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 9 S 4 17
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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.