Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Wed, November 7th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Thu, November 8th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

2018/2019 winter avalanche season has begun!

Wednesday Nov. 7th update:

Winter is here and the snowpack is slowly forming in the mountains surrounding Girdwood and Turnagain Pass. Tonight a small storm may bring up to 6-8″ of new snow to higher elevations.  Temperatures have started to increase into the mid 30F’s near sea level and East winds are expected to be moderate (15-30mph) overnight. This new snow will be landing on a shallow snowpack, roughly 8-10″ of settled snow below 2500.’ Cold temperatures over the last 10 days have formed weak faceted snow and surface hoar. Avalanche activity over the next few days will depend on how much new snow we get and how this new snow bonds to the current surfaces. Above 2500′ there is more of a layered snowpack where rain from mid-October fell as snow in the Alpine. We have already seen a few human triggered avalanches in the Alpine which are good reminders that a thin snowpack can still produce a slide.    Here’s a recap of these recent avalanche observations:

Remember to always  consider the consequences  of an avalanche, even a small wind slab can knock a person off their feet and somewhere they don’t want to go.  If you head out into the mountains be on the look out for Red Flag warnings:  

  1. Recent avalanches
  2. Cracks in the snow that shoot out from you
  3. Whumpfing (collapsing) of the snowpack
  4. Rapid changes in weather (snow/rain/wind/temperature)

Both surface hoar and faceting old snow have been observed this week in Turnagain Pass. These could be our first persistent weak layers if we get any new snow this week.  


A thin sun crust was found on steep southerly aspects on Seattle Ridge as well as a thin early season snowpack.

A human triggered wind slab on a North aspect of Pastoral that was triggered on 11/4 due to moderate winds the two days prior.  

Moderate NW winds blowing snow around on Nov.2 on Sunburst


Special Announcements

The CNFAIC will be issuing  intermittent snow and avalanche updates  as conditions warrant through mid-November.  Daily avalanche forecasts are planned to begin on Thanksgiving weekend  – unless we see more snow and avalanche issues before this demanding an earlier start.  

*Early season folks:  Please send us your snow/avalanche reports so we can post them on our observation page. That you to all those who have  submitted  already! Simply click ‘submit observation’ under the Observation tab above. This is a huge benefit for the community and our forecasters.  Make sure to  like us on Facebook  and  follow us on Instagram  for our most up to date information.




Friday November 9th:  6th Annual Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop

9am – 4:30pm,  Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Bldg.  Join us for the 6th annual SAAW. Alaska’s Southcentral avalanche community will team up with snow professionals from around the region, Southeast Alaska and Idaho to share knowledge and stories. This is a ‘must attend’ event for avalanche professionals and an excellent way for recreational backcountry users to delve into advanced avalanche topics!  Pre-registration closes on Thursday, November 8th at 6pm. After that, you can get tickets for $20 at the door between 8:30 and 9am.  Lunch, coffee, snacks and a post workshop ‘beer social’ is included. Full schedule and registration  HERE.


Thursday, Nov 15th:  Beartooth CNFAIC Fall Fundraiser:    Hope for Snow!

8 – 11pm, Beartooth Theater Pub & Grill.    A slightly different format this year with short stories and live music. SNOW STORIES by  Wendy Wagner,  Roman Dial and  Blaine Smith.  Live Music by  HOPE SOCIAL CLUB!

Tickets are $20 and will be available starting Oct. 23 at the  Beartooth website and box office.  


Wednesday, Nov 21st:  Snowmachine throwback film fundraiser –  “2 Stroke Cold Smoke”!

7 – 10pm, 49th State Brewing Co Anchorage. Kick off the riding season, connect with CNFAIC and learn about snowmachine specific avalanche awareness/course opportunities with a ‘throwback film’ night!!    

$20 tickets available soon online and at local snowmachine dealerships. More details coming soon!

Wed, November 7th, 2018
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
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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
  • Announcement

We are focusing each early season update on one of the Know Before You Go’s ‘GETS’.  Today’s GET is GET THE TRAINING!  (Know Before You Go video link in case you haven’t seen it)


November is Avalanche Education Awareness Month for the state of Alaska and we are excited to share some important resources to help you plan for the winter season ahead. Be sure to bookmark these links and sign-up early for classes and scholarships. We really can’t express enough how important it is to take an avalanche class and practice all the skills you learn and then refresh… and practice… and take another class… and always have the mindset that there is more to know about snow. There are a variety of courses to take in Southcentral Alaska. Check out alaskaavalancheschool.com and alaskasnow.org and alaskaguidecollective.com to find one. Use our Events Calender to find out when we are offering Free awareness classes and rescue workshops. We will be adding more events to this in the next few weeks. Avalanche.org is another a great resource for avalanche information and you can check out the National Avalanche Center Encyclopedia there at the bottom of the Education page. 


The Friends of the CNFAIC have two scholarships dedicated to avalanche education. The funds generated to make these possible are in celebration of Rob Hamel and Amy Downing, their love and passion for the mountains, and to help others stay safe. We encourage you to read each one and apply yourself if you fit the need, or pass along to someone who could benefit.  Applications due on Dec 1st.

Rob Hamel Scholarship Fund – For recreational users and professional avalanche workers.

Amy Downing Scholarship Fund – For recreational users.

Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center offers a scholarship for Mat-Su residents: Johnny Soderstrom Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Please follow us on Facebook and on Instagram @chugachavy for more updates, photos, events and interesting avalanche related posts.


Wed, November 7th, 2018

For weather information during these updates, see:

CNFAIC Weather Page

NWS Mountain Recreation Forecast  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′)        
Summit Lake (1400′)        
Alyeska Mid (1700′)        

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)        
Seattle Ridge (2400′)        
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

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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.