Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Sun, March 12th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Expires
Mon, March 13th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains LOW at all elevations. Although triggering an avalanche will be unlikely, we still need to look for signs of unstable snow. If the sun heats up steep south facing slopes enough, small wet loose avalanches could be triggered. Additionally, watch for old wind slabs in upper elevation steep rocky terrain. Give cornices a wide berth along ridgelines and as always, stick with good travel protocol in case you get caught by surprise.

PETE’S / JOHNSON PASS / SILVERTIP: In the southern end of the forecast zone there is a weak layer 1-2′ deep that has shown signs of reactivity. The most recent was an avalanche triggered 6 days ago. This small section of terrain is where triggering a slab may still happen. More on this below in the additional concern section.

SUMMIT LAKE: This area has seen stronger NW outflow winds during the past week. Wind loaded snow has overloaded a weak snowpack and many natural large wind slab avalanches have occurred. Despite calmer winds today, triggering a small or large wind slab on exposed slopes and gullies is possible.

Special Announcements

Turnagain Pass Avalanche Awareness Day – this Saturday!
On March 18th swing by the Turnagain Pass moto lot on your way to or from your backcountry ride or ski!! Test your beacon skills, chow down on hot dogs, and bring your questions for CNFAIC forecasters. The Alaska Avalanche School will be there along with a chance to demo snowmachines from Alaska Mining and Diving Supply and Anchorage Yamaha and Polaris. More details HERE!

Thanks to our sponsors!
Sun, March 12th, 2023
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Recent Avalanches

Over the past week of sunshine and warm weather there have been widespread wet loose avalanches releasing on southerly facing slopes and a couple small glide avalanches. However, with the cooler temperatures the past couple days, these have been much less common. We know of no confirmed avalanches yesterday.

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Another quiet weather day will keep the avalanche danger LOW. Snow surfaces are a mix of sun crusts, old wind crusts, a lot of tracks from the past couple weeks, and some keen folks are finding nice soft surface snow on shady aspects and in the lower angle trees. If you are headed out for a short day or a longer adventure to a new area, be sure to keep up with good habits. These are watching for any red flags (cracking in the snow around us, collapsing/whumpfing in the snow under us) and safe travel protocol (exposing one person at a time, having escape routes planned, watching our partners and posting up in safe zones). The winter mountains always harbor surprises somewhere. Although triggering an avalanche is unlikely, below are some things to keep in mind.

Wet Loose Avalanches:  Daylight savings time started today. This means solar noon is just after 2pm (when the sun is at its highest) and the warmest part of the day tends to be 3-5pm. Hence, if we are looking for the sun crusts to warm and soften, no need to get up early. And, if they soften too much, we could start triggering small wet sluffs. Typically the top 4-5+ inches needs to soften to start triggering these.

Lingering Wind Slabs:  In the upper elevation steep and rocky terrain, there can always be some small pockets of old wind slabs that may still be able to release. This is most likely in areas where a slab(s) is hanging onto steep features and not necessarily supported from anything under it.

Cornices:  As always, give these a wide berth. They can pull back much further than expected.

Glide Avalanches:  A couple small glide cracks have released into avalanches over the past week. Although there are not many cracks where most people travel now, I’m guessing we’ll start seeing more and more open up as the spring progresses. Be sure to limit time under these as they can release at anytime.

 

Sunburst’s much loved SW face with a lot of tracks over the past 12 days of sunny March weather. Photo taken yesterday by Megan Guinn, 3.11.23.

 

Unless the sun heats up southerly slopes enough to soften the crusts, shadier aspects harbor the best snow conditions. This is looking up at Pastoral Peak from Taylor Pass. This photo also taken by CNF Avy Center Intern Megan Guinn yesterday, 3,11.23.

Additional Concern
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
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.
More info at Avalanche.org

As mentioned in the Bottom Line, there is a thin layer of faceted snow buried 1-2′ deep that is still a concern in a very small section of the forecast zone and could extend further to the south. On Monday, 6 days ago, a skier triggered a wide avalanche a little over a foot deep above Johnson Pass in the Bench Pk area. This avalanche released after several skiers had already descended the slope. This is a common sign of a lingering persistent weak layer that may be stubborn to trigger but could still produce an avalanche. The snowpack near the Pete’s ridges to Johnson Pass and toward Summit Lake is different than the rest of the forecast area. The potential for human triggered avalanches big enough to catch and injure us is still low, but not out of the question in this area. We recommend careful evaluation of the snowpack and more conservative terrain selection.

Weather
Sun, March 12th, 2023

Yesterday:  Another brilliant sunny day was over the region yesterday. Ridgetop winds were north to west in the 5-10mph. Temperatures were in the 20’sF in the Alpine and warmed to the 30’s at the lower elevations.

Today:  Some high clouds will be filtering in today from the northwest. Ridgetop winds are again forecast to be light, 5-10mph from the NW. Temperatures are in the single digits in valley bottoms and may not warm quite as much with the clouds, yet should still be in the 20’sF at most locations by this afternoon.

Tomorrow:  Partly cloudy skies with some valley fog is expected tomorrow and into Tuesday. Ridgetop winds look to bump into the 10-15mph range from the NW tomorrow and turn easterly on Tuesday. Temps look to remain in the 20’sF. A chance for a few snow flurries could come on Tuesday into Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 24 0 0 64
Summit Lake (1400′) 17 0 0 37
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 25 0 0 65
Bear Valley – Portage (132′) 17 0 0

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 21 variable 4 11
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 23 variable 1 4
Observations
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Riding Areas
Updated Fri, February 10th, 2023

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
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Placer River
Open
Closed Jan 5th due to lack of snow and reopened Feb 11th.
Skookum Drainage
Open
Closed Jan 5th due to lack of snow and reopened Feb 11th.
Turnagain Pass
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Twentymile
Open
Closed Jan 5th due to lack of snow and reopened Feb 11th.
Seward District
Carter Lake
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Lost Lake Trail
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Primrose Trail
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed
Closed to motorized use for the 2022/23 winter season per Forest Plan. Open next season.
Snug Harbor
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Open
Opened Dec 13th.
Summit Lake
Open
Opened Dec 13th.

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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.