Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Mon, March 22nd, 2021 - 7:00AM
Tue, March 23rd, 2021 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today. There is still a chance of triggering a slab 1-3′ deep on slopes 35° degrees and steeper. Terrain that has been recently wind-loaded is the most suspect. Keep in mind that there are buried weak layers in the snowpack. Assess the snowpack as you travel, identify areas of concern and evaluate terrain consequences.

SUMMIT/SNUG HARBOR/LOST LAKE/SEWARD: If you are heading traveling south of the forecast area remember the recent northwest winds really impacted all these zones, increasing the likelihood of wind slab avalanches. Extra caution is advised.

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Mon, March 22nd, 2021
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
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

We received a report of a large human triggered avalanche in Ragged Bowl from a party on Goat yesterday. They thought it had occurred around 4 pm yesterday and was likely a wind slab failing on a persistent grain (weak snow). Please let us know if you have more information on this by sending in an observation or dropping a note to staff@chugachavalanche.org.

Ragged Bowl avalanche, 3.21.21. Photo: George Creighton.


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

The definition of MODERATE avalanche danger includes: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. For now our snowpack sits in that box. Steep, unsupported slopes that have been recently wind-loaded warrant extra caution. The avalanche on Raggedtop, that we believe was triggered yesterday, fits into that category. In addition, observers are still reporting large whumpfs and there were human triggered avalanches on Thursday and Friday. These avalanches failed on buried facets and/or buried surface hoar in the top 1-3′ of the snowpack. On the flip side many people were out across the forecast area enjoying the sunshine with no incident yesterday. This conflicting data can be a bit confusing but is really indicative of a persistent slab issue. The bottomline is if you are heading out for some sunshine today, finding a spot where there is a slab over the buried weak snow remains a concern. The most likely place to run into trouble will be in terrain that has been recently wind-loaded, with stiff snow sitting on top of soft snow. Steep southerly aspects, where there are weak facets above and below a sun crust, may be more sensitive if there is enough of a slab over the crust facet combination.

Please watch for signs of instability, use good travel protocol, and think about terrain consequences.

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.

Sun effect: Be on the lookout for sun effect on steep southerly slopes, especially under rocky areas at lower elevations.  Watch for the surface snow becoming moist and small roller balls.

Small slab failing easily on facets above and below the sun crust yesterday, 3.21.21, on a southerly slope of Colorado Peak in Summit. 





Mon, March 22nd, 2021

Yesterday: Sunny skies with northwest winds 5-10 mph and temperatures with highs in the teens to high 20°Fs. Overnight skies were clear and winds remained light. Temperatures were inverted with ridgetop temperatures in the teens and valley bottoms a few degrees below zero.

Today: Mostly sunny skies becoming partly cloudy in the afternoon with easterly winds 5-10 mph, gusting into the 20s. Temperatures will be in the teens to high 20°Fs. Increasing clouds overnight with a chance of light snow showers. Temperatures will be in the teens and winds will be easterly winds 10-20 mph with gusts into the 30s.

Tomorrow: Cloudy with snow showers in the morning becoming mostly sunny by the afternoon. Temperatures in the 20°Fs and light variable winds in the morning shifting to the west, 5-10 mph in the afternoon.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 15 0 0 112
Summit Lake (1400′) 12 0 0 45
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 13 0 0 114

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 10 W 8 21
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 12 N 3 19
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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.