Turnagain Pass RSS

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Tue, April 26th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Wed, April 27th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE  today. Glide avalanches continue to release daily in popular recreation areas.  Avoid being under the runout of glide cracks.  Human triggered and natural wet loose avalanches are possible in steep terrain due to saturated snow, rain and warm temperatures. In the Alpine new snow and strong winds have formed wind slabs and added stress to already large cornices.  

*ATTENTION HIKERS:  Summer use areas crossing under avalanche terrain should be avoided due to the possibility of natural avalanche activity. Byron trail in Portage Valley and Crow Pass are two examples of trails with dangerous avalanche terrain above.

AVALANCHE OUTLOOK for Wednesday, April 27th:  

Continued CONSIDERABLE danger is anticipated for Wednesday due to rain/snow, strong winds, and warm temperatures. Remember this means natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. If the precipitation is heavier than forecasted or the sun comes out for an extended period of time the danger may increase to HIGH.

Special Announcements
  • Turnagain Pass advisories will be issued 4 days a week (Sat, Sun, Tues and Thur) until Saturday, April 30th when the Avalanche Center closes. For Summit Lake conditions, please see the  final  Summit Lake Summary and springtime tips  on this link. €¨
  • Reminder: as the season winds down, we will continue to publish all reports/observations sent in. Don’t be shy –  pass along what you see  if you are getting out in the mountains!!  
  • Heads Up! There was a very large natural avalanche at Hatcher Pass yesterday. Dangerous spring avalanche conditions exist in that area. Read the avalanche observation HERE.  
Tue, April 26th, 2016
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
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

The wet spring storm that is impacting our area has added almost 2″ of rain to an already wet snowpack. As the snowpack gets warmer and more saturated below 2500′ the already active glide avalanche cycle may ramp up even more. An additional glide avalanche ran over the uptrack on Seattle Ridge and another piece of the crack on the West face of Magnum also released. Watch for new cracks appearing and avoid travel under existing glide cracks.



West face of Magnum with recent wet loose avalanches and a new glide release adjacent to the one from last week. 

New glide avalanche on the Seattle Ridge uptrack (farthest right streak).

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

Turnagain Pass received almost 2″ of water yesterday and another .5″ is forecasted to fall today. The rain is falling onto an already wet snowpack. Human triggered wet loose avalanches are likely below 2500′ and natural ones are possible. Skiers reported triggering a small wet loose avalanche on Sunday. Visibility was limited yesterday but new wet loose avalanches were observed on the West face of Magnum. We have yet to see surface slides gouging into deeper layers but this potential may increase. As the rain/snowline dances around 2500′ rain may fall onto snow and trigger wet loose avalanches as well. We will continue to monitor whether or not the rain is impacting the drier snow in the Alpine. If you are traveling through the glop today pay attention to how deeply you are penetrating into the snowpack, watch for roller balls and remember loose avalanches can knock you off your feet, are hard to escape and can push you into terrain traps. 

Wet day at Turnagain Pass

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

Temperatures at 3000′ have remained below freezing which means the rain falling at the road will have been snow in the Alpine. We suspect 6-12″ have fallen in the past 24 hrs. This combined with the sustained 30-40 mph winds may have formed tender wind slabs along ridgelines. Look for drifted snow and watch for cracking underfoot. The wind and snow may also have added stress to very large cornices. Avoid travel on or under these beasts. 

Tue, April 26th, 2016

Yesterday was overcast and rain fell throughout the day (snow above 2500′?). Temperatures were in the high 30Fs at 1000′ and the high 20Fs at 3000′. Easterly winds were steady 30-40mph with gusting into the 80s.

Today will be mostly cloudy with another .5″ of rain forecasted to fall.  Winds will be easterly 15-35 mph potentially increasing in the afternoon.  Temperatures will be in the low 30Fs to low 40Fs depending on elevation.  


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 37   0   1.8   104  
Summit Lake (1400′)  41 0  0  15
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  36 0    .8  87

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  28  ENE  33  89
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  30  ESE  25    60  
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.