Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Fri, March 4th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 5th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Overall generally stable avalanche conditions exist in the advisory area but with the widespread glide cracks in popular recreation terrain in the  Treeline (1000′-2500′) elevation band and the possibility of triggering a large cornice fall in the Alpine, the hazard remains at MODERATE.  In addition, lingering pockets of wind slab and loose snow avalanches may be triggered in steep terrain. Practice safe travel techniques and take inventory of surface conditions as a storm approaches for the weekend.    Watch for changing conditions if snow and winds pick up earlier than forecasted.  

Special Announcements

Due minimal snow coverage and signs of snowmachine impact to exposed vegetation the Seward Ranger District  officially closed the  Primrose Trail access to Lost Lake  yesterday, March 3, 2016.   Thanks to many of you who have made an effort to stay on the trail and to educate others about the consequences of tearing up the vegetation. Until this area recieves more snow the trail will remain closed.  

Fri, March 4th, 2016
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

Glide avalanches continue to release and glide cracks are growing daily. An observer on Wednesday noted movement in the Cornbiscuit glide crack over the course of two ski runs. There was glide avalanche that was observed on south face of Manitoba yesterday that occured sometime between 12 pm-4pm. Glide avalanches are still totally unpredictable and travel underneath glide cracks should be avoided. 



Recent glide avalanche in the Seattle Creek drainage. This was initially observed Wednesday afternoon and Wendy got a photo of it yesterday.


The Cornbiscuit glide crack is huge, growing and scary… It is worth checking out the other photos from the observation on Wednesday. 

Photo: Kevan Dee

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 cornices are impressive and hang over many slopes in the advisory area. There was a report of a snowmachine triggered cornice fall in Warmup Bowl on Wednesday that took the rider by surprise. They luckily did not go over with the falling chunks of snow. Cornices have the potential to be quite dangerous if you take ride with them or if they fall from above onto you. Avoid travel on top, watch for cornice cracks and limit exposure while traveling below. We are not ruling out the possibility of a large cornice fall triggering an avalanche on the slope below due the massive loading potential. 


Snowmachine triggered cornice fall in Warmup Bowl on Wednesday.


Additional Concern
  • 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

Today is a transitional day as we say goodbye to the sunshine and the clouds move in with the possibility of snow showers. Depending on the thickness of the cloud cover we may still see some surface warming of the snowpack. We have had no reports of human triggered avalanches in the past few days. There is still the possibility of triggering lingering wind slabs in steep leeward terrain, especially unsupported convex slopes. If you are out in the mountains it is worth checking out surface conditions, as these will be what the next wave of snow hopefully bonds to. Southerly slopes have a crust; there have been reports of small surface hoar formation in some areas and in protected areas loose snow is starting to facet. In addition there is a wide array of wind-affected snow at higher elevations and a delightful rain crust lower down.

Loose snow avalanches: Steep protected areas have loose snow that may be enough to push you off your feet if it gains enough force and mass as it travels down slope with you. Manage your sluff by moving out of its path before it hits you.


Surface conditions at Turnagain pass.

Fri, March 4th, 2016

Yesterday was clear and sunny. There were some patches of valley fog. Temperatures were in the mid 20Fs to upper 30Fs. The winds were light and easterly. Temperatures dropped into the high teens to mid 20Fs overnight.

Today will be mostly cloudy with a chance of snow in the morning, increasing in the afternoon. 0-3″ of snow is possible. East winds will be light and temperatures will be in the mid 20Fs to 30Fs.  

Rain and snow showers are forecasted tonight and tomorrow. This pattern will continue through the weekend as a low in the Gulf spins a series of weather systems into the area.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 26   0   0    138
Summit Lake (1400′) 23 0   0  42
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  25 0 0   104  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  22  ENE 10   22  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  25 –   –   –  
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
Riding Areas

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.