Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast
The avalanche danger should rise to MODERATE today as several inches of new snow falls with moderate winds in the Turnagain Pass region. Wind slabs are expected to form in the higher elevations or in exposed areas in the trees. They should be generally small, up to a foot at the most, but possible for us to trigger. Small sluffs could be triggered in the new snow as well. Paying close attention to new snow amounts and wind loading is recommended. Areas with only 2-3″ of snow may not see any rise in danger.
PORTAGE / PLACER: The mountains closer to the Sound should see higher snow amounts and the danger could rise to CONSIDERABLE by this evening. This means natural wind slab and loose snow avalanches could occur.
Transmission inspection using snowmachines: Chugach Electric Association will be inspecting the transmission lines along the non-motorized side of the Turnagain Pass (between Tincan and Johnson Pass) using snowmachines on one day between Thursday 3/16 and Tuesday 3/21.
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
|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|
After a two week dry spell, a pattern shift is here bringing a few inches of snowfall today and possibly heavier snowfall on Friday. As the graphic below from the National Weather Service suggests, varying degrees of snow is expected (3-6″ ish) in general with the highest amounts in Portage and Placer Valleys (6-10″). Ridgetop winds have already ramped up overnight and are blowing in the 15-25mph range with stronger gusts from the east.
Avalanche danger will depend on 1) how much new snow falls and 2) how strong the wind blows. With such meager snow amounts, the most likely avalanche type will be wind slabs where winds are blowing the new snow, and possibly some old soft snow, into slabs. These are likely to be on the smaller side, maybe up to a foot thick. The old snow surfaces were a mix of sun crusts on aspects facing ESE through WSW and soft old faceted snow and harder wind affected snow on shadier aspects. Wind slabs forming on either one of these surfaces should be touchy, even if they are smaller, the sun crust especially. Watch for stiffer wind deposited snow and shooting cracks. Wind slabs should be easy to identify if we look for them.
Sluffs in the new snow should be easy to trigger on steep slopes with over 4″ of new snow. These could run further than expected if a sun crust is underneath.
If a zone sees snowfall in the 6-10″ range, such as forecast for Portage Valley or Placer, then shallow storm slabs may form in areas out of the winds. This means triggering a slab avalanche composed of the storm snow is possible.
Travel Advice: Paying attention to new snow amounts and wind loading will be key. Many areas may not see enough snow/wind to even elevate the danger. For example, if only 2-3″ of new snow falls with no wind loading, the danger will remain LOW.
Snowfall totals through today. There is high uncertainty, but it looks promising for a little refresh. Graphic courtesy of NWS Anchorage. 03.14.2023
We are still concerned about a layer of weak facets buried about a foot deep in the southern edge of our forecast area. This layer is most problematic in a small area between Pete’s North and Johnson Pass, The layer was the culprit in a wide propagating skier-triggered avalanche last Monday (3/6). These stubborn persistent weak layers can be difficult to predict and there could still be a chance a person could trigger another slab, as occurred just over a week ago. Extra caution is recommended in this area.
Yesterday: High clouds were over the region with light ridgetop winds from the SE (5-10mph). Temperatures were in the single digits to teens and climbed into the 20’sF at the lower elevations with daytime warming.
Today: Light snow showers are expected through today with 4-6″ of total accumulation. Ridgetop winds should be easterly in the 15-25mph range with some stronger gusts. Temperatures look to hover in the teens at most locations with lower elevations climbing into the 20’sF this afternoon.
Tomorrow: A break between storms is expected tomorrow. Partly cloudy skies, moderate east winds (10-15mph), and maybe a lingering flurry or two. Another system pushes in Friday that could bring higher snowfall amounts. Stay tuned.
PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||14||4||0.2||67|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||10||0||0||37|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||12||1||0.05||65|
|Bear Valley – Portage (132′)||10||2||0.15||–|
RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||10||SE||3||10|
|03/19/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tin Can||Paul Schauer|
|03/19/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Megan Guinn|
|03/18/23||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass – valley bottoms||W Wagner|
|03/17/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Megan Guinn & John Sykes|
|03/17/23||Turnagain||Observation: Eddie’s/Summit||Alex Palombo|
|03/16/23||Turnagain||Observation: Twin Peaks Meadows||Schauer/ Pfeiffer Forecaster|
|03/16/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Elias Neuffer|
|03/16/23||Turnagain||Avalanche/People Involved: Tincan Trees||Anonymous|
|03/16/23||Turnagain||Avalanche/People Involved: Tincan Common||Catherine Rocchi|
|03/15/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||John Sykes Forecaster|
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.