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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, December 1st, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, December 2nd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A  MODERATE  avalanche danger exists in the upper elevations of the advisory area. Human triggered avalanches may be possible in steep, wind-loaded terrain above 2500′. Practice safe travel techniques and ease into terrain one at a time, look for signs of instability before committing to steep slopes greater than 35 degrees.

Below 2500′ the danger is LOW where the snowpack is freezing after being saturated over the past several week.

Special Announcements

Fireside Chats are back!  Join CNFAIC Forecaster Heather Thamm this Wednesday Dec. 2nd in Anchorage at the  Blue and Gold Boardshop  for our first Fireside chat as she discusses terrain and route selection.  More information on our calendar page  HERE.

Outside of advisory area AVALANCHE CONDITIONS update:

Due to avalanche danger and on going search and rescue efforts for a missing skier, the East Hatcher Pass Management Area is closed to public use until further notice. For current information visit  DNR Newsroom  and  hatcherpassavalanchecenter.org

Tue, December 1st, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

Upper elevation slopes that harbor dry and crust-free snow after Thanksgiving’s onslaught are the areas most suspect for triggering an avalanche. These slopes are also where most of us are looking to ride and sit at elevations over 2,500′. If you are headed out today (we may see clearing skies…?) there are two things to keep in mind:

1-  A bump in wind from the Northeast last night may have created shallow wind slabs just off the ridgelines. These should be easy to identify by keeping an eye on the surface texture and looking for areas of stiff wind deposited snow. Quick hand pits can help assess the reactivity of any slabs found.

2-  In general we have little information for terrain over 3,000′. What we do know is 2-4′ of ‘Thanksgiving’ snow sits on top a variety of old surfaces, one of these being a layer of small facets near the ground. With the lack of natural avalanche activity during last week’s storm cycle and snow pits showing stable snow at 3,000′, plus four days now since the end of the storm, all signs point to a stabilizing pack. However, caution is still warranted as an avalanche breaking in the facets near the ground would be large. Don’t forget your safe travel practices if venturing onto steep committing terrain, namely, only expose one person at a time and watch your partners carefully.

Terrain below 2,500′:

Rain that fell last week has now frozen and a crust exists under 2-6″ of new snow; dust-on-crust riding conditions. Freezing of the snowpack has stabilized these lower elevations. We did get a report yesterday of a large avalanche that was spotted in the Tincan Trees area – suspected start zone is above treeline and under the CFR ridgeline (2,500′). The slide is suspected to have occurred sometime late Sunday or early Monday. If you have any information about this avalanche please let us know!

Photo below of the CFR avalanche (credit: Ray Koleser).


Tue, December 1st, 2015

Cloudy skies covered the region yesterday and instability showers dropped a few more inches of snow above 1,000′; light ‘freezing’ rain at sea level. Winds were light from the NE and temperatures remained mild.

Overnight, winds picked up slightly from the Northeast with averages in the 10-20mph range and a peak gust at Sunburst of 41mph. These have decreased this morning. Temperatures continue to be mild (ridgetop mid-20’s F), yet cooler air has just begun filtering in from the Northeast. We may see a few more instability showers again today intermixed with clearing skies.

Another shot for a few inches of snow will come tomorrow as a pulse of moisture is pushed in by a low-pressure system in the Gulf.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 29   2   0.2 24  
Summit Lake (1400′) 30   0   0   10  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 32   2   0.1   17  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 24    ENE 13   41  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 24 N/A   N/A   N/A  
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11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
11/13/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
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11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
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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.