Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Fri, February 7th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Sat, February 8th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE above 1,000′. Triggering a large and dangerous slab avalanche 2-3′ thick remains likely and these avalanche could be triggered remotely. Natural avalanches are possible. Continued cautious route-finding and conservative decision making are essential today. Pay attention to changing conditions as the next storm moves into the area.

Below 1000′: Watch for precipitation falling as rain. If we receive more than forecasted we may see wet loose avalanches in this elevation band that could run to valley bottom in places like Byron Glacier.

*Roof Avalanches:  Warming temperatures are causing roofs to begin to shed their snow. Pay attention to children, pets and where you park your car. Rain will also increase this hazard.

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Fri, February 7th, 2020
Above 2,500'
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Recent Avalanches

Yesterday was a day for natural avalanche observations. A natural avalanche was observed in Crow Creek just after 2 pm. Details are unknown but the photo of the power cloud in action is concerning. A very large avalanche that was thought to have been naturally triggered sometime in the last couple days above Luebner Lake was observed from the air. This was the largest avalanche we know of recently.  In addition, a few natural avalanches were observed in motion out of the forecast area near Moose Pass and Cooper Landing. Over the past few days we know of 6 skier and/or snowmachine triggered slab avalanches from Girdwood, Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake. No one has been caught to date and several have been triggered remotely. All of these avalanches are failing on weak faceted snow 2-3′ below the surface. Many are being triggered in the mid-elevation band around 2,000′ and outside of wind effect. All of this data is pointing to a dangerous snowpack! Heads up!!!!

Powder cloud observed in Crow Creek just after 2 pm yesterday, 2.6.20. Believed to be naturally triggered. Details of avalanche are unknown at this point.

Crown observed from the air yesterday above Luebner Lake. The date the avalanche occurred is unknown but thought to have been in the past couple days and naturally triggered. The total crown is approximately 2,000′ wide. 2.6.20. Photo: Henry Munter. 


Avalanche Problem 1
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
  • Historic
    Very Large
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

Triggering a large dangerous avalanche on buried weak snow remains a concern today. You might be starting feel like the forecast is a broken record because we keep saying this and the danger is still CONSIDERABLE. Unfortunately signs continue to point to large avalanches being a very real and scary possibility and cautious travel has to be the prudent advice.  Wind loading in some terrain over the past week and warm temperatures have made the slab over the weak snow (facets and surface hoar) more connected. Often warm temperatures are associated with healing in the snowpack but this time it is actually making things worse. The slab is more cohesive and it’s increasing the potential size of the avalanche (example being the Luebner avalanche) and the likelihood of triggering an avalanche remotely (from the side, below or above a slope). There have been multiple human triggered avalanches reported this week and some concerning natural avalanches. There is snow and wind in the forecast today and tomorrow. These will add more slab and stress to the snowpack. The message today is again… Weak snow that formed in January is lurking 2-3′ below the surface. Please don’t be the trigger!

Some things to remember with this kind of avalanche problem:

    • Tracks on a slope do not make it safe. It could be the 2nd or 10th person that triggers the slab.
    • Remote triggering is possible. This means trigging a slide from below, the side or from on top.
    • Signs of instability may not be present before a slab releases.
    • Small slopes in the trees may avalanche.
    • Consider the consequences if the slope does slide. Is there a terrain trap you could be caught in?

Wind slabs: To add insult to injury… While you are trying to avoid large persistent slab avalanches also be on the lookout for fresh wind slabs in leeward terrain.

Weak snow under a slab on Seattle Ridge. 2.6.20.

Video link HERE.

Fri, February 7th, 2020

Yesterday: Mostly clear skies in the morning and then clouds building in the afternoon. Temperatures were in the 20Fs at upper elevations and the low 30Fs at lower elevations during the day and overnight. Winds were westerly 5-15 mph gusting into the 20s. Wind shifted to the east and increased overnight to 10-20 mph gusting into the 40s.

Today: Skies will be cloudy with snow likely and 3-6″ forecast. Below 1000′ may see mixed precipitation. Winds will be easterly 15-25 mph gusting into the 40s. Temperatures will be in the mid 20Fs to low 30Fs. Snow showers will continues overnight with another 3-6″ possible.

Tomorrow: Snow likely with rain at sea level. Temperatures in the mid 20Fs to mid 40Fs depending on elevation. Easterly winds through Turnagain arm could gust into the 60s. Temperatures cool slightly in the evening promoting more snow than rain showers and winds should decrease. There is overall cooling trend starting Sunday evening into next week.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 28 1 0.1 54
Summit Lake (1400′) 23 0 0 20
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 27 1 0.02 55

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 19 NE 12 45
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 23 E* 7* 24*

*Big thanks to the Alaska Avalanche School motorized Level 1 class for cleaning off the Seattle Ridge anemometer (wind sensor) around noon yesterday! Wind data is from after that.

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
04/16/21 Turnagain Avalanche: Seattle Ridge
04/16/21 Turnagain Avalanche: Turnagain Pass, non-motorized side seen from Seattle Ridge
04/16/21 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
04/15/21 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
04/13/21 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs
04/12/21 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
04/10/21 Turnagain Observation: north sides
04/09/21 Turnagain Observation: Girdwood to Turnagain Road Observations
04/05/21 Turnagain Avalanche: Resort bowl Seattle creek head wall
04/04/21 Turnagain Observation: Center Ridge
Riding Areas
Updated Thu, April 01st, 2021

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
No parking in turnaround at end of the road near the outhouse.
Placer River
Please do not ride along Railroad tracks. Cross tracks at 90 degree angle and clear the right of way.
Skookum Drainage
The Skookum Valley is closed to snowmachines. This closure occurs annually on April 1 as per the CNF Forest Plan.
Turnagain Pass
Please do not ride along Railroad tracks. Cross tracks at 90 degree angle and clear the right of way.
Seward District
Carter Lake
Lost Lake Trail
Primrose Trail
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed for the 2020/21 winter season.
Snug Harbor
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Summit Lake

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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.