Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Fri, November 25th, 2022 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, November 26th, 2022 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE above 1000′ and could rise to CONSIDERABLE tonight at the high elevations due to strong northwest winds heading into the region. As winds increase today, it will be possible for a person to trigger a fresh wind slab avalanche up to 2′ deep. The most dangerous locations will be in the upper elevations near ridgelines, below convex rolls, and in cross-loaded gullies. There is also a weak layer of snow at the bottom of the snowpack that has the potential to create a larger avalanche at elevations above 3000′. The danger is LOW below 1000′.

Special Announcements

Avalanche Education Scholarships: Get your application in NOW! The Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center hosts two different types of scholarships; the deadline is December 1st. Several opportunities are available. See details HERE. Help us spread the word!

New this season: we are adding the avalanche problem rose to our icons. We’ve posted a quick guide on how to use it (and its limitations) HERE.

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Fri, November 25th, 2022
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
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

The last known avalanche activity was at the end of Tuesday night’s storm that brought around a foot of new snow to Turnagain Pass. Avalanches were generally small sluffs with a few smaller wind slabs on steep wind loaded slopes.

Loose snow avalanches on the backside of Seattle Ridge (Main Bowl) that occurred at the tail end of Tuesday night’s storm. Photo taken yesterday, 11.24.22, by Andy Moderow.

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
  • Aspect/Elevation
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Aspect/Elevation of the Avalanche Problem
Specialists develop a graphic representation of the potential distribution of a particular avalanche problem across the topography. This aspect/elevation rose is used to indicate where the particular avalanche problem is thought to exist on all elevation aspects. Areas where the avalanche problem is thought to exist are colored grey, and it is less likely to be encountered in areas colored white.

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

Wind slab avalanches will be the main problem for the next few days. Beginning today, winds have shifted northwesterly and should pick up along the ridgelines into the 15-25mph range with stronger gusts by midday and into the 30-40mph range tomorrow. There is plenty of loose snow available for transport after a surprise foot of new snow fell a couple days ago with another 2-4″ from last night. Wind slabs could be anywhere from 1-2′ thick and could be touchy when they are freshly formed. Starting tonight and into tomorrow, natural wind slab avalanches could occur if the wind forecast verifies.

If you are headed out hoping skies will clear a bit, watch for the winds. As we know from the past, this flow direction can funnel winds from all directions at Turnagain and load slopes on various aspects. As always, keep an eye out for active wind loading, stiffer snow over softer snow and cracks that shoot out from you. Wind slabs, and even small human triggered sluffs, can run further than expected on steeper slopes as there is crust under the loose surface snow below 3,000′ or so.

Easterly winds blowing snow on Pastoral Peak yesterday, 11.14.22. Andy Moderow.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
  • Aspect/Elevation
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
    Size
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.

Aspect/Elevation of the Avalanche Problem
Specialists develop a graphic representation of the potential distribution of a particular avalanche problem across the topography. This aspect/elevation rose is used to indicate where the particular avalanche problem is thought to exist on all elevation aspects. Areas where the avalanche problem is thought to exist are colored grey, and it is less likely to be encountered in areas colored white.

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

At the higher elevations, above around 3,000′, we are watching the base of the snowpack where a layer of facets exist. These are the October facets that created many large avalanches several weeks ago now. Although snowpit tests are showing mixed results and we have not been seeing avalanches release on this layer for some time in our forecast area, it’s still worth keeping in mind. Especially since a large slab was seen north of Girdwood (in upper Glacier Creek and pictured below) which could have released on this layer.

Given the uncertainty, paying attention to any recent large avalanche activity, with crowns several feet deep, and other warning signs like whumpfing in the snowpack is prudent. The winds today and tomorrow could test this layer by loading high elevation slopes. Something for all of us to look for.

Large avalanche in upper Glacier Creek (north of Girdwood) seen from Seattle Ridge yesterday, 11.24.22 by Andy Moderow. 

Weather
Fri, November 25th, 2022

Yesterday:  Clear skies were over the region yesterday morning with high clouds moving in later in the day. Ridgetop winds picked up in the afternoon into the teens with gusts in the 20’s mph from the east.  Overnight, a brief pulse of moisture dropped 2-4″ of snow across the forecast area and to sea level. Temperatures have been hovering in the 20’s F in the mid and upper elevations.

Today:  Mostly cloudy skies with a few snow flurries are expected this morning with some clearing by the later afternoon. Ridgetop winds will be picking up from the northwest through the day blowing 15-25mph by this afternoon with stronger gusts. Temperatures will drop with the cold outflow winds into the teens and single digits by tonight.

Tomorrow:  Mostly clear skies are forecast tomorrow, Saturday, with cold temperatures continuing to be ushered in by the strong northwest outflow winds. Some higher elevations could see winds up to 40mph with stronger gusts – stay tuned. The next chance for precipitation looks to be later this coming week.

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

Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 28 2 0.2 24
Summit Lake (1400′) 22 4 0.4 15
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 28 3 0.3 21
Bear Valley – Portage (132′) 27 2 0.2

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23 E 10 27
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25 SE 6 12
Observations
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/28/22 Turnagain Observation: Pastoral
11/27/22 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
11/26/22 Turnagain Observation: Eddies
11/26/22 Turnagain Observation: Eddies
11/26/22 Turnagain Observation: Lipps
11/25/22 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/25/22 Turnagain Observation: Sunnyside / Seattle Ridge
11/25/22 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/25/22 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
11/25/22 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
Riding Areas
Updated Sun, November 27th, 2022

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
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Placer River
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Skookum Drainage
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Turnagain Pass
Closed
The Forest has issued a closure order for Turnagain Pass due to inadequate snow cover for resource protection. Conditions will be monitored daily. Between 16-20” of snow exists at the parking lot. The scheduled opening would have been the Wednesday before Thanksgiving per Forest Plan.
Twentymile
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Seward District
Carter Lake
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Lost Lake Trail
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Primrose Trail
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed
Closed to motorized use for the 2022/23 winter season per Forest Plan. Open next season.
Snug Harbor
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.
Summit Lake
Closed
Scheduled opening Dec 1st per Forest Plan, contingent upon adequate snow depth for forest resource protection.

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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.