Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Thu, April 28th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Fri, April 29th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains  CONSIDERABLE  below 2500′ due to glide avalanches that continue to release daily throughout our region.  Avoid being under the runout of glide cracks.  In addition, human triggered and natural wet loose avalanches are possible in steep terrain due to saturated snow, rain and warm temperatures.  

In the Alpine the avalanche danger is MODERATE,  where human triggered wind slabs are possible.

*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 Friday, April 29th:  

A Similar avalanche danger is anticipated for Friday with a continued weather pattern in store. However if more precipitation falls than expected OR if the sun appears for an extended period of time the danger could increase to HIGH.

Special Announcements
  • The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center is quickly approaching our final advisories for 2015/2016 winter season. Today (4/28) and Saturday (4/30) will be our last two advisories for Turnagain Pass. For Summit Lake conditions, please see the  final  Summit Lake Summary and springtime tips  on this link.
  • A big thanks to all who submitted observation this winter. 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!!    
Thu, April 28th, 2016
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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 glide avalanche cycle continues with new activity occurring on a daily basis. Springtime weather, warm temperatures and rain, continues to add stress to the mid-elevation snowpack where the majority of glide cracks exist. If venturing into the mountains choose your route wisely. It is very important to identify terrain with existing cracks and avoid any travel under the runout of glides.



A view yesterday of Repeat Offender on Seattle Ridge. Even though this area has closed to motorized use, travel on the Seattle Ridge side of the road is still not recomended.


Close up of existing glide cracks that still threaten the normal “skin route” to Seattle Ridge.



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

Over the last 48 hours 0.8” (Snow Water Equivalent) has fallen in Turnagain Pass. This is equal to about 3-5” of wet/moist snow in the mid elevations (1800’-2500’) and rain below this. Today’s showery weather will likely add another 3-5” of wet snow to the mid elevation band. Below 2500’ human triggered wet loose avalanches are likely, if initiated on steeper slopes. In general avoid steep terrain if the surface snow is wet or older snow (where it has been raining) is unsupportable. These are obvious clues the snow is loosing its strength.

*In the alpine where drier snow has fallen over the week, solar exposure will be important to monitor should the sun appear.  With warm springtime temperatures, any period of direct sun could rapidly melt surface snow, and natural wet loose activity will be possible. 

Visibility has been very poor in Turnagain over the last few day, however the DOT webcam captured a photo of wet loose activity on Tincan’s CFR ridge during a brief clearing Tuesday(4/26) evening. 

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

Over the last four days an estimated 1-2’ of new snow has fallen in the alpine with periods of strong winds earlier in the week. Today Moderate Easterly ridgetop winds are expected with an additional 5” of new snow. Be on the look out for wind slabs on leeward features. Careful snowpack evaluation is essential in the alpine, and don’t forget blowing snow and cracking underfoot are obvious signs the snowpack is stressed out. The wind and snow may also have added stress to very large cornices. Avoid being under cornices and give them extra space along ridgelines.

Thu, April 28th, 2016

Yesterday scattered rain showers and obscured skies were observed throughout Turnagain Pass. A total of 0.4 € of rain fell at Center Ridge Weather station (1880′) and daytime temperatures averaged in the high 30Fs with overnight temperatures hovering around 33F. Easterly Ridgetop winds were Light becoming Moderate (20’s mph) by late afternoon.

Rain showers are expected throughout the day and rain/snow line will be around 2200′. 3-5 € of snow (0.5 € of snow water equivalent) is expected today. Easterly ridgetop winds, averaging 15-30mph, will continue today. Daytime high temperatures for 1000′ are expected to reach 47F and overnight lows in the mid 30F’s.

Expect a similar weather pattern for Friday, with slightly less precipitation expected. Rain/snow line may push to 2500′.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 35   2   0.4   104  
Summit Lake (1400′) 40   rain   0.1   12  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 38   rain   0.13   85  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 27   ENE   16   42  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 29   SE   12    33
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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.