Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast
A CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger remains on wind loaded slopes above 1,000′. An easterly wind event pummeled the mountains yesterday and touchy wind slabs are expected to be found today. Fresh slabs 1-2′ thick will be likely for a person to trigger. These may be stiff enough to allow a person onto them before releasing and they may also be triggered remotely (from the side or the top). Watch for visible signs of wind loading and cracks that shoot out from you. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential.
The avalanche danger is MODERATE below 1,000′. Wind slabs may have formed on low elevation steep slopes and if so, they will be possible to trigger. For example, in the Placer Valley.
SUMMIT LAKE/SNUG/LOST LAKE: Strong winds impacted these zones as well. Human triggered wind slabs are likely and extra caution is recommended.
|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|
The easterly wind event over the region yesterday has just begun to quiet down early this morning. Snowfall amounts with the winds were meager, only a trace to a few inches around the region. For the past 24-hours the mountains around Girdwood, Portage Valley, south through Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake to Seward all saw strong wind with significant snow transport. The east winds are slated to remain in the moderate range today (15-25mph), which may be enough to still find remaining snow to move around. All that said, wind slabs are likely to be found in many exposed places.
If you are headed out in hopes the skies clear and some soft snow still remains, be on guard for very touchy wind slabs. These are likely to be found not only in the usual spots along the lee side of ridgelines, but cross-loaded in gullies and even lower on the slopes and on rollovers. Slabs should be in the 1-2′ range in the higher elevations while they could be quite shallow in the mid and lower elevations. Watching for the typical wind slab signs will be key:
Along with these clues, be aware slabs could be quite hard and allow a person onto them before releasing. This can make escaping off the side much more difficult. They also could be triggered remotely, from the top/side or below. Most new slabs are likely sitting on weak faceted snow and/or buried surface hoar. This is what is making them not only more touchy and easy to trigger, but can keep them from stabilizing quickly. We have to go into today treating these like they are prime to release. Sticking to slopes 30 degrees or less, with nothing steeper above us, is great way to have fun without worrying about triggering an avalanche.
Additionally, a wind slab could step down to an older layer of buried surface hoar and/or facets, creating a larger avalanche. This older persistent weak layer formed in late January is still on our radar. Something to consider especially in larger terrain.
Cornices: Cornices are getting bigger with each wind event and may be easier to break off today with the added stress. Remember that a cornice fall may trigger a wind slab on the slope below. Give them extra space as they can break farther back than expected and limit exposure under them.
A crack that shot out from Andrew Schauer’s ski yesterday on a quick tour up in the Girdwood Valley. 2.11.21.
Video above is thanks to Graham Predeger who was in Portage Valley yesterday (link). This is a notorious gap wind location near Portage Lake (Portage Pass). Winds are funneled through the tight gap as they make their way between the Gulf and the mainland. 2.11.21.
Thanks to all the folks keeping us abreast of the new glide cracks. They are starting to open in more and more places in Girdwood Valley, Summit Lake and Turnagain (Tincan, Eddies, Seattle Ridge). The last known release was Tuesday on Penguin Ridge. Avoid time under glide cracks as they can avalanche at anytime and are completely unpredictable.
Yesterday: Cloudy skies, light snowfall and strong winds were over the region yesterday. Only a trace to a few inches of snow fell with Turnagain Pass seeing up to 3 inches. Ridgetop east winds averaged 40-50mph with gusts in the 80’s for the whole of yesterday and just early this morning have quieted to half that. Temperatures are on the warm side with sea level in the mid 30’sF, mid elevations in the 20’sF and ridgetops in the teens.
Today: Skies are forecast to slowly clear out through the day, yet the easterly winds remain to some degree. These are expected to average 15-25mph along ridgelines at times before finally abating tonight. No precipitation is expected. Temperatures should remain mild, 20’s at most mid elevations and the teens along the ridgetops.
Tomorrow: Mostly clear skies and cooler temperatures are on tap for tomorrow. Ridgetop winds look to be in the 10-15mph range from the east. Temperatures should drop to the single digits in valley bottoms with an inversion in place while upper elevations remain in the teens. There looks to be slight chance for snow in the models for early next week.
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||27||3||0.4||120|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||27||tr||tr||43|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||26||1||0.04||111|
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||20||SE||21||40|
|05/22/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Nick D'Alessio|
|05/12/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan, Sunburst, Magnum, Cornbiscuit||Heather Thamm|
|05/07/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan – Bear Tracks||CNFAIC Staff|
|05/05/23||Turnagain||Observation: Seattle Ridge||AS/ WW Forecaster|
|05/02/23||Turnagain||Observation: Cornbiscuit||Schauer/ Sturgess Forecaster|
|05/02/23||Turnagain||Observation: Seward Hwy Turnagain Pass||Joel Curtis|
|04/30/23||Turnagain||Observation: Magnum||Ayla, Kit Crosby, Barton|
|04/29/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||John Sykes|
|04/28/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Taylor Pass/Pastoral||Schauer/ Creighton Forecaster|
|04/28/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Andy Moderow|
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.