Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Fri, January 29th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Sat, January 30th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A CONSIDERABLE  avalanche danger exists in the Alpine where a person could trigger an avalanche on slopes 30 degrees and steeper in Turnagain Pass and Girdwood. The snowpack still needs time to adjust to the 3″ of precipitation (apprioximately 2-3′ of snow) that has fallen since Tuesday night. Careful route finding and conservative decision-making will be crucial. Wind loaded areas, cornices and glide cracks should be avoided.

A MODERATE  avalanche danger is present below 2500′ where the snowpack is wet and saturated and triggering a wet loose avalanche or wet slab on a steep slope is possible.

Below treeline a LOW  danger exists where triggering an avalanche is unlikely.

Elevated caution and careful snowpack assessment is recommended for Summit Lake where strong winds and new snow have added stress to a thin snowpack. Click  HERE  to read the most current Summit Lake Summary and  HERE  for an observation from Wednesday.  

Special Announcements

Check out CNFAIC forecaster Graham Predeger’s latest installment in Alaska SnowRider on the importance of carrying an avalanche probe as part of your essential rescue gear. Click here to read the article.

Have you filed for the PFD? Remember you can still  PICK.CLICK.GIVE  to  The Friends of the CNFAIC.Your donations are greatly appreciated and an integral part to making the CNFAIC possible and sustainable.

Fri, January 29th, 2016
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
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
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

Approximately 3′ of snow or 3″ of rain has fallen in the advisory area since the storm started Tuesday night. This combined with strong ENE winds Tuesday through Thursday has created dangerous conditions in the mountains. Visibility was limited yesterday but fresh debris from a large natural avalanche was observed off of Seattle Ridge. The snowpack will still need time to adjust to this load today and allow the new snow to bond to the old snow surfaces. Elevated caution is advised. Slab depth, especially in wind loaded areas could be deep and very dangerous. Avoid slopes steeper than 30 degrees and be aware of what terrain is above you. Triggering a wind slab in leeward areas is likely. Look for patterns of wind loading, steer clear of stiff pillowed snow and watch for shooting cracks. 

The warm wet snow combined with wind is prime cornice building conditions. Avoid travel underneath or on top of these today. They may easily fail naturally or under the weight of person or machine. When they fall they could overload slopes below and trigger a large avalanche. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

A majority of the precipitation that fell on the snowpack in the Treeline elevation band (1000′-2500′) has been in the form of rain or very wet snow. This has created saturated conditions and the potential for wet loose and wet slab avalanches. This may change throughout the day as the temperatures are forecasted to drop. This could help stability increase as the snowpack freezes. On the flip side watch out for areas that receive direct sunshine (south facing) if skies clear, this may increase wet loose activity. We are at that point in the AK winter season where this will start becoming an issue. Avoid travel on steep slopes in this elevation band, especially areas where you could end up in a terrain trap.


Wet debris from Seattle Ridge. This avalanche ran almost into the flats near the motorized lot on Turnagain Pass yesterday. 


Additional Concern
  • Glide Avalanches
    Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches are the release of the entire snow cover as a result of gliding over the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow. They typically occur in very specific paths, where the slope is steep enough and the ground surface is relatively smooth. They are often proceeded by full depth cracks (glide cracks), though the time between the appearance of a crack and an avalanche can vary between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, are nearly impossible to forecast, and thus pose a hazard that is extremely difficult to manage.
More info at Avalanche.org

Limited visibility yesterday made it hard to see how the glide cracks were behaving. The snowpack received extra weight and lubrication from rain and warm temperatures. This may cause increased glide activity and so may the cooling temperatures throughout the day. Glides are totally unpredictable. Avoid travel underneath them. We sound like a broken record as they have been in the forecast now for weeks however; they are really not something to mess with. 


Fri, January 29th, 2016

Yesterday skies were mostly cloudy with some clearing in the afternoon. Rain and snow continued to fall adding an additional .5″ of precipitation (5+” of snow above 1500′) to the snowpack. This brings our storm total to right around 3” of H2O (2-3′ of snow). ENE winds decreased throughout the day becoming calm overnight and temperatures were in the mid 20Fs @ 3000′ and in the mid 30Fs @ 1000′.

Today there will be scattered rain and snow showers mostly before noon with a clearing and cooling trend throughout the day. Winds will be calm and temperatures will be in the mid 20Fs to mid 30Fs.  Tonight temperatures are forecasted to drop down into the teens and there is a chance for isolated snow showers.  

Saturday will be mostly sunny as a stabilizing ridge dominates the weather pattern for the day. Clouds move back into the area overnight. Stay tuned for the next round of stormy conditions next week.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′)  30 0   .3   97  
Summit Lake (1400′)  34 0   .1 28  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  33  4.5 .7 72  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)

Sunburst (3812′)

26   E* 10* 41*  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  27  n/a n/a    n/a

*Sunburst anemometer has been down since 7 pm, 1/28.

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.