Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast
The avalanche danger is MODERATE above 1000′. It still may be possible for a person to trigger a large avalanche on a layer of surface hoar buried 2-3′ deep. We know this layer to be widespread throughout the forecast area and as such it is worth testing and identifying any features of concern before committing to big terrain. Shallow areas that are wind scoured or near rock outcroppings are more like spots to find and potentially trigger this weak layer with your skis or snowmachine.
Additionally, some steep alpine slopes are harboring enough new or weak surface snow where loose snow avalanches/ sluffs could be a concern if folks push into steeper terrain today. Below 1,000’ the danger is LOW.
SUMMIT LAKE: The snowpack in the Summit Lake area has a similar structure to Turnagain Pass, but it is thinner and weaker. This makes human-triggered avalanches a little more likely, which means we should be a little more cautious around steep terrain.
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|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|
Today looks to be another insignificant day of weather for contributing to any heightened avalanche activity. We are however, still dealing with a lurking layer of buried surface hoar 2-3’ under the surface that was responsible for a very active human-triggered avalanche cycle two weekends ago. Our benign weather this week has further allowed this layer to gain strength and it is proving more stubborn to trigger but we can’t forget about it just yet.
Buried surface hoar is a notoriously tricky weak layer that tends to persist (ie: persistent slab) and has potential to cause problems weeks after it is buried. Hence why a cautious mindset is still warranted even two weeks after it was last active in our area. It’s still worth taking the time to test this layer on your snowmachine or skis before committing to any bigger, more consequential terrain. A quick snowpit or sled cut on a small no-consequence slope is a great way to feel out this weak layer 2-3’ down. If you get any propagating results from a snowpit or other red flags (cracking or collapsing in the snowpack), that should be evidence enough to keep your terrain mellow. You can still avoid this problem entirely by sticking to slopes less than 30 degrees.
Loose snow/ sluffs: There have been reports of just enough loose snow at the surface (4-8″ of new snow this week combined with surface faceting) to justify mentioning the possibility of loose snow avalanches/ sluffs. Keep your sluff management in mind if you find yourself pushing onto steep, high alpine slopes today.
This avalanche ran on the layer of buried surface hoar that is widespread throughout or region, 2-3′ below the surface. Though becoming less likely to trigger, it’s important to keep consequences in mind. If the slope does slide, am I above a terrain trap or is there a clean runout? Photo: Goat Mountain (Girdwood Valley), 2.2.2023
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We’ve catalogued the Thanksgiving crust/ facet layer as an ‘additional concern’. It still exists toward the bottom of our snowpack (4-8’ deep) but is becoming very unlikely that a person could trigger an avalanche that deep. With a major loading event or significant warm up this may pop back up as a more prominent concern in the forecast but for now its very unlikely to see an avalanche breaking this deep in our snowpack.
Yesterday: Another day of eerily calm winds at ridgetop locations where gusts at Sunburst (3800’) never broke single digits. A bit of sunshine over Turnagain Pass in the morning gave way to partly cloudy skies by the afternoon. Temperatures were mild and fluctuated very little throughout the day/ night. Low 20s F at ridgetops and right around 30 F at lower elevations.
Today: Low clouds/ fog may persist in Girdwood and eastern Turnagain Arm this morning as there isn’t much wind expected to mix the atmosphere. Temperatures have dropped a bit from yesterday and are expected to be in the high teens F at ridgetops and mid to high 20s near sea level. We may see periods of light snow with the passing shortwaves moving through but accumulation is expected to be in the 1-2″ range through the forecast period.
Tomorrow: Another shortwave trough moves north tomorrow and we may see another trace to an inch of snow, mostly cloudy skies and light winds from the East. Tomorrow night there appears to be a lull before a larger, more potent winter storm moves out of the Gulf of Alaska and into our area. Details are still being refined but Sunday/ Monday looks to be our next good chance for a reset. Stay tuned!
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||25||0||0||62|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||23||0||0||34|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||25||2||.15||63|
|Bear Valley – Portage (132′)||28||trace||.01||—|
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||23||var||0||2|
|03/23/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Magnum||Amanda Goss|
|03/23/23||Turnagain||Observation: Cornbiscut flats||Noah Lohr|
|03/23/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Turnagain Road Obs||Megan Guinn and Others|
|03/22/23||Turnagain||Observation: Eddies||John Sykes|
|03/20/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Turnagain Pass Road Observations||Megan Guinn|
|03/20/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Lynx Creek Drainage||CNFAIC Staff|
|03/20/23||Turnagain||Observation: Eddies||Nolan Dumont|
|03/20/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Cornbiscuit||Allen Dahl, AAS Level 1|
|03/19/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tin Can||Paul Schauer|
|03/19/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Megan Guinn|
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: email@example.com
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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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.