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Wed, March 8th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Thu, March 9th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A LOW  avalanche danger remains in the backcountry  at all elevations. Although this means triggering an avalanche is unlikely, it is not impossible and concerns are: triggering an old hard wind slab in steep rocky terrain, loose snow sluffs on steep slopes with soft snow and cornice falls. The glide cracks on Seattle Ridge continue to open – these can release at any time and limiting exposure under them is recommended.

Remember that good travel habits remain important, even during ‘green light conditions’. This includes exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves.  

Summit Lake area:  A thinner snowpack exists with a poor structure and heightened avalanche danger remains in this zone.  Please see  the Saturday Summit Summary  HERE.

Special Announcements

Join the Zac’s Tracs crew at Alaska Mining and Diving Supply TONIGHT for an  “Indoor Avalanche Rescue Workshop”  from  6:30 – 9:30PM.   Please call AMDS in advance for more information and to pre-register.   Space is limited.    907-277-1741.

There will be an Alaska State Trooper Helicopter in the Turnagain Pass area this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon conducting avalanche rescue training operations.

Wed, March 8th, 2017
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

Another day of brilliant sunny skies and cold temperatures is on tap – Marvelous March. Winds are slated to remain mostly light, possibly getting up to moderate (15mph) along some ridgelines from the North. It is that time of year where longer days can be had in the backcountry. As we often say at times of low avalanche danger, Low doesn’t mean No. And this should remain in the minds of all of us getting out into the steep terrain. Snow is a complex thing and it seems once we let our guard down, something happens. So, keep up your safe travel habits and always watch for changes in the snowpack as well as weather. Below are the ‘Normal Caution’ concerns that underscore the current green conditions: 

Glide Avalanches:
Glide cracks continue to slowly open above popular terrain on Seattle Ridge and in other areas of the advisory area. These could release at any time, watch for these cracks and avoid being under them, photo below.

Wind Slabs:
Old and hard winds slabs are easy to find but for the most part they are locked into place. Steep rocky areas, where they are not supported from below, will be the most suspect zones for someone to pop one out. These areas are also where slabs are likely sitting on weak faceted snow. Even a small wind slab can have big consequences if a person is knocked over cliffs or down steep terrain. Watch for hard snow over weak loose snow as well as shooting cracks and whumphing noises. 

Loose Snow (Sluffs):
Watch your sluff. Dry sluffs on steep slopes are probable and are getting larger by the day. Althought many steep South slopes have a sun crust, a slight change in aspect still sports soft snow and sluff concerns. 

Cornices should always be given a wide berth from above and limit exposure time traveling underneath.

Persistent Slabs and Deep Slabs: 
There are various weak layers in our thin snowpack. Buried surface hoar sits 1-3+’ below the surface and faceted snow sits in the mid and base of the pack. These weak layers with varying degrees of strength are in a dormant stage due to plenty of time to adjust with a lack of chaging weather. Although this means the layers are not producing avalanches, it doesn’t mean an outlier can’t occur which could cause a large avalanche breaking deeper in the pack. 

Opening glide crack to the looker’s left of the snowmachine up-track on Seattle Ridge (apologize for poor image quality, but hopefully you get the idea).



Wed, March 8th, 2017

Sunny skies were again over the region. Ridgetop winds bumped up slightly yesterday, up to 10-15mph from the North and West. Temperatures were cold again, starting off at all elevations in the single digits and warming into the teens and lower 20’sF at the lower elevations. Portage is reading -10F this morning, burrr.

Sunny and cold weather will dominate again today. Daytime warming should let the unseasonably cold temperatures warm up into the teens and 20’sF in the lower elevations. Ridgetop winds are expected to be in the 5-15mph range with stronger gusts from the North. Winds could increase to 20-25mph by tonight.

The impressive blocking high-pressure bringing these cold and clear conditions looks to remain entrenched over us into the early part of next week.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 5   0   0   61  
Summit Lake (1400′) 2   0   0   29  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 7   0   0   57  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 3   W   8   22  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 4   NW   5   17  
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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.