Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast
The avalanche danger is MODERATE today, and it is possible to trigger an avalanche 1-3’ deep on a layer of weak facets and surface hoar buried by the new snow from earlier this week. Multiple skier-triggered avalanches on this layer yesterday are a clear sign that these weak layers need time to heal. The best way to manage a widespread persistent weak layer is to step back with your terrain selection, avoiding steep terrain where getting caught in an avalanche would have serious consequences.
PORTAGE/LOST LAKE/SNUG HARBOR/SEWARD: These areas continue to see stronger winds than the core advisory area, increasing the likelihood of avalanches. Dangerous avalanche conditions require cautious route finding today.
Headed to Hatcher Pass? Be sure to check out the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center’s Saturday morning forecast!!
The ANCHORAGE FRONT RANGE received 16-20”+ of snow and moderate northwesterly winds Wednesday night and into Thursday, and avalanche conditions are still dangerous. A group of snowshoers triggered an avalanche yesterday that ran close to 1000 vertical feet and crossed a popular hiking trail (details here). Be aware of heightened avalanche danger if you are getting out in the front range today.
Skookum Valley: A skier remotely triggered an avalanche 150’ wide and 3’ deep that ran 200 vertical feet on a NE aspect at 800’ elevation. Nobody was caught or carried. (more details)
Grandview: A skier remotely triggered a small but deep wind slab on a convex rollover at around 1500’ elevation on a west aspect. The pocket that released was about 40’ wide and 1.5-3’ deep, running for about 40 vertical feet. The slab failed on a weak layer of buried surface hoar on top of a melt-freeze crust. (more details)
Skier triggered soft slab above Skookum Valley. Photo: Graham Predeger. 03.12.2021.
|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|
Moderate avalanche danger covers a wide range of avalanche conditions, and today’s avalanche problem should not be taken lightly. The midweek storm brought 1-2’ of snow, burying a weak layer of faceted snow and surface hoar. Subsequent winds on Thursday and Friday have drifted this snow into stiff wind slabs up to 3’ thick or thicker, and we have seen multiple skier-triggered avalanches as a result (details here and here). Today’s combination of weather and snowpack is the exact situation where most avalanche accidents occur. A sunny weekend day with conditionally unstable snow (ready to avalanche on some slopes and stable on others) will make it easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. Here are a few things to think about to keep you out of trouble today:
Just like we saw last month, these persistent weak layers will need some time to gain enough strength to be trusted. For now, the safe bet is to recognize the increased hazard and take a step back in your terrain use.
Sluffs: Steep slopes that have been sheltered from the wind have around a foot or more of loose snow sitting on top of firm surfaces. It will be easy to trigger dry loose avalanches today, and they can pick up enough volume and speed to carry a person. While it is unlikely they will be big enough to bury you, they can be dangerous if they drag you into terrain traps like cliffs, trees, rocks, or gullies.
Remote-triggered avalanche that failed on a layer of buried surface hoar sitting on top of a melt-freeze crust. 03.12.2021
Yesterday: We had plenty of sunshine yesterday, with clear skies and cool temperatures. High temperatures were in the single digits to upper teens F, with overnight lows down to -12 F near Summit Lake to just barely above 0 F in Girdwood and on Turnagain pass. Westerly ridgetop winds were sustained at 5-15 mph, with gusts to around 20 mph.
Today: Another day of clear skies and chilly temperatures is on tap today before active weather returns tomorrow. Highs are expected in the single digits to upper teens F, with lows in the single digits above and below 0 F. Westerly winds are expected to gradually decrease during the day, blowing 5-15 mph at ridgetops this morning.
Tomorrow: Cloud cover will increase early tomorrow morning, with the highest chance of precipitation late afternoon Sunday to early Monday morning. Winds will shift back to the southeast at 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph, and high temperatures are expected in the mid to upper teens F. Total snowfall is looking a bit more modest than our last storm, with around 6” expected by Monday morning. Stay tuned for updates!
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||9||0||0||116|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||2||0||0||45|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||9||0||0||119|
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||5||N||3||10|
|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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|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.