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Sun, March 29th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Mon, March 30th, 2020 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains LOW in the backcountry surrounding Turnagain Pass. Triggering a slab avalanche or wet loose avalanche is unlikely. Watch for glide cracks and limit exposure under them. As always, give cornices a wide berth.

Special Announcements

CNFAIC Update:  As Alaskans know, two statewide COVID-19 Heath Mandates were announced Friday that went into effect yesterday. Following both the Social Distancing and Intrastate Travel directives are critical for the health and safety of our communities at this time. CNFAIC operations and public safety products are being impacted, which are currently being evaluated. We will keep everyone up to date with any changes that may take place moving forward.

*For some fun at-home avalanche ‘geeking’ on your own or with your family and kids, check out our recent post HERE!

Sun, March 29th, 2020
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
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

In contrast to last week temperatures are staying colder, there is solid overnight freezing and a crust on all aspects high into the Alpine. Triggering an avalanche is unlikely and a ‘Normal Caution’ avalanche regime exists in the backcountry surrounding Turnagain Pass. Remember LOW danger does not mean no danger. Always carry avalanche rescue gear, use safe travel protocols, look for signs of instability, and pay attention to changing conditions.

Glide avalanches:  Despite the low danger, glide avalanches could still pose a problem. Although the temperatures are cool, this type of avalanche could release at anytime and is not associated with a human trigger. Watch for glide cracks and limit any expose under them. A few glide cracks are beginning to open and several released on Thursday.  Don’t mess with the brown frown!

Close up of the glide avalanche on Raggedtop that released on Thursday. 3.26.20.

Avalanche Outlook for the coming week:
A couple more days with clear skies, cold nights and warm(ish) daytime temperatures are in the forecast. Solar warming on southerly slopes, combined with light winds, may be enough to soften and melt surface crusts. If the crusts melt and the cohesion is lost, the avalanche danger will rise. Both wet loose and wet slab avalanches will become possible. Watching for this will be the key to avoiding avalanche issues during the beginning of the week.  Later in the week with a chance of rain and snow, paying attention to temperatures and precipitation amounts will be important for assessing avalanche danger. Rain on snow can cause wet avalanches and storm slabs may develop if new snow does not bond well to the existing snow surface.

Pay attention to the crust this week! Is it solid and supportable? Or soft and punchy?

Wet loose avalanches:  Watch for daytime warming to soften surface crusts on steep southerly slopes. Once the snow is punchy and becoms saturated, wet sluffs will be easy to trigger. These can run much further than expected on large slopes and entrain a significant amount of snow.

Wet slab avalanches:  Similar to wet loose avalanches, once the surface crusts melt, wet slab avalanches will become possible. These could also have a dry slab character in the higher terrain where dry snow exists under the surface crust. Areas most suspect are those with a shallow snowpack harboring weak faceted snow in the mid and base of the pack, such as on the south end of Turnagain Pass and in the Summit Lake area.

Cornice falls:  Warming during the heat of the day can weaken cornices and make them more tender to trigger. Something to keep in mind for the remainder of the snow season.

Lingering wind slabs:  There still could be some lingering wind slabs in the high elevation rocky terrain that are not yet welded into place. Daytime warming can cause these to become more sensitive and as always, be wary of wind deposited stiff snow over weaker snow.


Sun, March 29th, 2020

Yesterday: Skies were partly cloudy to mostly clear with temperatures in the teens and 20°Fs at upper elevations and high 20°Fs to mid 30°Fs in valley bottoms. Winds were light and variable. Overnight skies were clear with temperatures in the single digits at ridgetops and teens at low elevation weather stations. Winds remained light.

Today: Clear skies with highs in the 20°Fs and calm winds. Overnight skies will remain clear with lows in the single digits and calm winds.

Tomorrow: Looking ahead the clear skies, cooler temperatures and light winds continue through Tuesday.  Starting Tuesday evening clouds move in with a warming trend and chance of precipitation starting Thursday. There is overall uncertainty with the weather pattern going into the weekend but the general outlook is for relatively benign weather for the region.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 19 0 0 63
Summit Lake (1400′) 20 0 0 29
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 19 0 0 71

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 11 W 4 13
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 14 N 3 10
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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.