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Tue, November 17th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, November 18th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Thursday, November 12th UPDATE:

As most of you know, it’s been COLD and clear for a week now. The snowpack in and around Turnagain Pass has been stable with no avalanche activity; other than a few small glide avalanches, more on that below.  

This is all about to change Wednesday night as the  fourth ‘snow’ storm of the season is slated to arrive; this will be four more ‘snow’ storms than this time last season!  The storm will come in a two part series; the first Wednesday night and the second, and more intense, Thursday night. Even though it’s too soon to guess at snowfall totals, I can’t help myself…. models are showing 3-5″ for the first pulse then 6-10″ on Thursday/Friday. Temperatures should be cold enough for snow to the road at 1,000′ but we will probably see some rain/snow mix at sea level. The flow direction for this storm (generally SW) often favors the Hatcher Pass area, so they could see some prolonged snowfall up North.

Future avalanche outlook:

Avalanche conditions will increase directly with the amount of new snow that falls. Here are a few key points:

1)  New snow is not likely to initially stick very well with the old surface

2)  Quick hand pits are great ways to assess how the new snow is/or is not bonding

3)  Slopes that are wind loaded can have slabs thicker than you might think (5″ of new snow can = 10+” wind slab)

4)  Watching for recent avalanches! Or the other Red Flags (cracking in the new snow or whoomphing)


Last week’s snow/avalanche conditions:

The recent clear and cold weather as been ‘eating’ away at our meager 1-2′ snowpack. This means areas with soft snow has been faceting – turning into sugar snow. Areas where the winds have hardened the surface, there sits small surface hoar on top. Both of these types of snow surfaces will make any new snow have a hard time sticking. So, if we do get 8-12+” of total snow from this system in the next few days it could be GAME ON for avalanches at Turnagain Pass.

Photo below: Although the snow looks like a hard wind-packed suface, it’s actually loose faceted snow as you can see by the skin track.


Photo below:  A look at the variable snow surface in -1 Bowl (Warmup Bowl) before it becomes buried.

Glide avalanches:

There are several glide cracks on Seattle Ridge, Eddies Ridge and Tincan. Most of these are just cracks but some have avalanched. Limiting time under these is prudent – there is no way to know when they may release, if they do at all.


Avalanche conditions OUTSIDE our forecast zone:  

There was very close call with a snowmachiner full buried for ~25minutes in the Summit Lake/Paxon area on Sunday, Nov 15th. We are currently gathering details. What we do know is the person is lucky to be alive and had the assistance of a nearby party to aid in the rescue.  

Keep in mind Hatcher Pass continues to have heightened avalanche conditions. See their Saturday morning report! hatcherpassavalanchecenter.org

Special Announcements


We will be issuing intermittent updates until Thanksgiving week. Advisories with danger ratings will begin around Thanksgiving.

*Thank you to everyone who has submitted snow/avalanche reports the past couple weeks! See them  HERE.

Tue, November 17th, 2015
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
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.
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.