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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Wed, December 14th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Thu, December 15th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A LOW  avalanche danger remains in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. Popping out an old wind slab sitting on faceted snow, breaking off a chunk of cornice or triggering a larger slab avalanche are all in the realm of ‘unlikely possibilities’. Most suspect terrain will be steep slopes further away from the road corridor and periphery zones like the Girdwood Valley and Placer Valley.  

*Good travel habits should not be left at home during ‘green light’ conditions; expose one person at a time, watch your partners, have an escape route planned and group up in safe zones.  

Special Announcements

Tomorrow night:  Fireside Chat: Avalanche Awareness and Rescue  with the CNFAIC in Girdwood at the  Powder Hound Ski Shop! December 15 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. FREE!

Wed, December 14th, 2016
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

While we patiently wait for the next snow event, folks continue to get out and enjoy the blue sky days and what snow we do have. To generalize, the snowpack above treeline is anywhere from 3-6′ thick on the North end of Turnagain Pass and 2-3′ thick on the South end the Pass (more snow typically falls on the North end because it’s closer to the Arm). Along the road the snowpack is anywhere form 6″ to 20″. It has been 14 days since our last snow event that added 6-10+”. The snowpack is generally stable and turning to sugar snow from the top down (near surface faceting) and in many thinner areas like Summit Lake, from the bottom up (forming depth hoar). Essentially, these cold days are creating a very weak foundation for the next load of snow. 

If you are headed out today, watch for wind slabs near ridgelines that are sitting on weak faceted snow (we received a report describing a wind slab that collapsed but didn’t release yesterday in the Girdwood Valley). Additionally, watch for cornices and ‘facet’ sluffs on very steep terrain. Last, the ‘outlier’ slab avalanche that could fail mid-pack due to the Nov 16 buried surface hoar is worth keeping in the back of your head. 

Wed, December 14th, 2016

It looks as though yesterday closed up the last of the single digit temperatures and bluebird skies. A large area of low pressure is pushing in and scouring out the cold air. Temperatures warmed up to the 15-25F range from valley bottoms to ridgetops overnight and ridgetop winds have remained light from a Westerly direction.  

For today we should see mostly clear skies with some valley fog. Temperatures will remain in the 15-20F range in the parking lots and mid 20’sF along the ridgelines. Winds are expected to be Northwesterly around 5-10mph on the ridgelines.

Again, the more interesting news is this weekend and next week. If the stars align we should see snow accumulation as early as Thursday, and not only snow to sea level, but snow falling at Hatcher Pass. At his point, models are showing a Southwest flow direction for Thursday into Friday – favoring Hatcher Pass as well as Anchorage. The larger system for Sunday looks to favor Turnagain Pass.

Check out part of the National Weather Service’s long term discussion below:

“.LONG TERM FORECAST (Days 3 through 7…Fri through Tue)…

A pattern change remains on track for late this week into next
week …. will help to usher a train of fast-moving systems …  This
will bring a moderating trend to temperatures………  as well as
increased precipitation chances,  especially along the coastlines.
Trends suggest there may be  ample snow opportunities inland
by early next week as well.”

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 18   0   0   20  
Summit Lake (1400′) 16   0   0   5  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 20   0   0   9  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 18   W   3   15  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 20    SW 4   14  
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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.