Share your feedback! Share your feedback!

How’s our new website?
How can we better serve you?

Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

Archives
ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Sun, January 12th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Expires
Mon, January 13th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Ryan Van Luit
The Bottom Line

Above 1000′, the avalanche danger remains MODERATE. Triggering a wind slab in wind loaded terrain or a sluff on steep protected slopes is possible. In addition, there is the potential to trigger a large avalanche on a weak layer buried 1-3′ deep.  Give cornices a wide berth and limit exposure under glide cracks.

*Friday afternoon there was a near miss avalanche incident along the Crow Pass summer hiking trail. We are currently compiling a near miss report and would like to thank the party involved for sharing their information. We are extremely thankful everyone is OK.

Thanks to our sponsors!
Sun, January 12th, 2020
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
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.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

Light to moderate winds have been over the region for the past several days. They were consistently moderate last night and are forecast to continue today. Combine these wind speeds with unconsolidated surface snow throughout the region, and the potential for wind slabs to form in the lee of ridges and gullies also increases.  Additionally, finding and triggering an older wind slab is possible. These slabs could be sitting on weak faceted snow, which can make them easier to trigger. Watch for blowing snow and changing surface conditions today. Look for visual signs that slopes have been loaded by the winds, these often have a rounded shape and will likely exist in the lee aspects. The snow may feel stiffer, hollow and crack around you. These are all signs of a potential wind slab.

Recent wind slab avalanche at 2700′ on east aspect of Colorado peak.  Suspected skier trigger from previous 1-2 days.  1.11.2020.  Photo: Anonymous

Another image of the recent wind slab avalanche at 2700′ on east aspect of Colorado peak.  1.11.2020.  Photo: Anonymous

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

Faceted weak layers and a layer of buried surface hoar remain within the snowpack. We’ve found these layers mostly 1-3 feet deep and showing signs that they are becoming harder to trigger with time. Signs of instability are not usually present before a slope releases in this case and many tracks can be on a slope before someone finds a trigger point. Thin areas in the snowpack are the most likely places to trigger a slide, they are often near rocks and on top of rollovers. As always, good travel practices are in order:  watching our partners, expose only one person at a time, remaining aware of consequences if the slope does slide, and choosing up and down tracks with forethought.

Additional Concern
  • 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

Glide cracks continue to ooze open. We haven’t seen or received reports of glide avalanches, yet they remain an unpredictable.  Travel advice remains the same: limit your exposure while traveling near and underneath glide cracks.

Oblique view of the glide cracks from Cornbiscuit, 1.10.20. Photo: Allen Dahl

Loose snow sluffs:  On slopes out of the wind the surface snow is becoming looser and looser by the day with the cold temperatures. Sluffs are getting larger because of this and gaining volume in longer sustained slopes. One observer described almost having a close call with his sluff on Friday. The faceting is more pronounced at lower elevations. Expect larger sluffs in steep terrain.

Cornices:  Give cornices plenty of space and limit your exposure when passing beneath them.

Weather
Sun, January 12th, 2020

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

Yesterday: Mostly clear and cold. A temperature inversion caused higher elevation temperatures to range from 5-10°F, while the valley bottoms -25 to -10°F. Ridgetop winds were from the northwest between 5-10mph with gust into the teens.

Today:  As a front pushes through the region, cloudy skies will prevail with warmer temperatures and a few snow flurries. Only a trace to 3″  of snow is expected along with temperatures in the teens and a period of increased easterly winds, 10-20 mph with gusts into the 30s.  A return to cold and clear weather is expected tomorrow and into next week.

Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy skies trend to become clear, with temperatures falling back to single digits. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 7 0 0 38
Summit Lake (1400′) -6 0 0 14
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 7 0 0 33

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 9 VAR 8 19
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 9 E 7 18
Observations
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
05/06/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Pastoral Peak, north face
04/10/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Wolverine
04/10/20 Turnagain Observation: Eddies lookers right shoulder
04/09/20 Turnagain Observation: Bench Peak
04/04/20 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
04/04/20 Turnagain Observation: Pete’s North
03/26/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan – Proper (SW facing)
03/26/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Seattle Ridge
03/25/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Sunburst Uptrack @ 2000′
03/24/20 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain – Road Observations
Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 2020

Status of riding areas across the Chugach NF is managed by the Glacier and Seward Ranger Districts, not avalanche center staff. Riding area information is posted as a public service to our users and updated based on snow depth and snow density to prevent resource damage at trailhead locations. Riding area questions contact: mailroom_r10_chugach@fs.fed.us

Area Status Weather & Riding Conditions
Glacier District
Johnson Pass
Closed
Placer River
Closed
Skookum Drainage
Closed
Turnagain Pass
Closed
Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
Twentymile
Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake
Closed
Lost Lake Trail
Closed
Primrose Trail
Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed
Snug Harbor
Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Closed
Summit Lake
Closed

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.