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Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Fri, March 27th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, March 28th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW today as cooling temperatures have frozen much of the snowpack in place. On upper elevation northerly aspects where a surface crust doesn’t exist, watch for lingering wind slabs. Additionally, glide cracks are opening and these could release despite the cooler weather.

SUMMIT LAKE:  This area harbors a shallower snowpack with weak snow in the mid and base of the pack. Triggering a larger slab is possible on slopes where dry snow remains and extra caution is advised. 

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Fri, March 27th, 2020
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

Many wet loose avalanches occurred both yesterday afternoon/evening and Wednesday due to the surface of the snowpack warming, melting and loosing its cohesion. On Bird Ridge, just outside of our forecast area and in Chugach State Park, there was a wet slab avalanche triggered by a hiker yesterday. The hiker was reported as OK (photo below). Once the warm weather returns, this is a good reminder of springtime avalanches and how easy it can be to find oneself in a bad spot.

Hiker triggered wet slab avalanche on the SW face of Bird Ridge yesterday, just off the main hiking trail. Hiker was reported to have been carried around 100′ and able to self rescue. 3.26.20. Photo: Anonymous.

Wet loose avalanche on the SE face of Seattle Ridge releasing from snow heating up around rock/trees at the top of the slope. 3.26.20.

 

Wet loose avalanches on Magnum’s west face. These occurred Wednesday 3.25.20. 

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

This morning, temperatures have dropped into the 20’s°F at most locations and elevations. This has locked up and frozen any wet or moist snow that existed yesterday and a stout crust can be expected capping the snowpack. With a cool northwest breeze slated to remain through the day pushing in even cooler air, along with some cloud cover limiting solar heating, the surface crusts aren’t expected to soften much. This should greatly limit any wet snow avalanche issues. That said, if a southerly slope does happen to receive enough sun and warmth this afternoon to melt the surface crusts, then wet avalanche activity is possible and it’s time to head to a shady aspect. If hunting for and finding dry surface snow on the higher shady aspects, watch for lingering wind slabs in steep rocky terrain.

Glide avalanches:  Watch for glide cracks! What is still possible today despite the freezing of the snowpack is a glide avalanche. There were a few glide cracks yesterday that released into avalanches and one of these can be seen from Girdwood on Raggedtop (photo below). Glides are completely unpredictable and have been known to also release when temperatures cool.

Glide release occurred 3.26.20.

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 we have been mentioning for some time, the south end of Turnagain Pass and the Summit Lake zone have a very different snowpack that is much shallower and harbors weak faceted snow in the mid and base of the pack. Caution is warranted in this area on steep slopes that still have dry snow. Watch for old wind slabs on facets or simply a stiffer layer of snow over weak looser snow. The cool temperatures should greatly limit this type of avalanche, but it is still worth keeping in mind. Slopes that were wet and now sport a hard surface crust will have low avalanche danger.

Weather
Fri, March 27th, 2020

Yesterday:  Mostly sunny skies were over the region. Ridgetop winds were steady from the northwest in the 5-15mph. Temperatures warmed to near 40°F at elevations from 2,000′ and below and to near 30°F along ridgetops in the Alpine.

Today:  Mostly cloudy skies are expected today as an upper level trough moves over Southcentral. Ridgetop winds will remain westerly in the 5-10mph before diminishing further tonight. Temperatures dropped into the 20’s°F overnight and should rise to the mid 30’s°F at the low elevations and the mid 20’s°F along ridgelines. A chance for a few snow flurries exist this evening that could add up to an inch of new snow in favored areas.

Tomorrow:  Cloudy skies and cool temperatures should remain over the region with a chance for a few snow flurries early tomorrow morning. Ridgetop winds will continue to blow from the northwest. Beginning Saturday night, clearing skies and colder air heads in through early next week.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 34 0 0 64
Summit Lake (1400′) 30 0 0 29
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 32 0 0 72

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23 W 8 25
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 28 NW 12 26
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Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 2020

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
Closed
Placer River
Closed
Skookum Drainage
Closed
Turnagain Pass
Closed
Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
Twentymile
Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake
Closed
Lost Lake Trail
Closed
Primrose Trail
Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed
Snug Harbor
Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Closed
Summit Lake
Closed

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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.