Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Thu, November 29th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Fri, November 30th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

We are issuing advisories 5 days a week through November on Sat, Sun, Tue, Thur and Fri.


A reminder that all motorized use remains  CLOSED due to thin snow cover.  The Forest Service will open these  areas as soon as possible when snow depth allows.  Watch for status updates at the bottom of this advisory page.


A thin and weak snowpack continues to dominate our avalanche discussion.  Reports of avalanche activity have dropped over the last week, but a poor snow structure still holds the possibility of causing avalanches.  Wind in the weather forecast today could form the stiffer slabs that have been mostly absent over the last week and could contribute to a rising avalanche danger.  

Thu, November 29th, 2012
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

Clear and cold weather and total lack of recent precipitation is keeping the status quo in the backcountry.  Our thin snowpack is made entirely of weak, poorly bonded crystals.  Most of the time when we talk about weak snow like this it means big avalanche problems, but for the time being we are missing the crtitical component of a stiffer, stronger, and heavier slab on top of the weaker snow.  Steeper slopes at higher elevations may still hold pockets of avalanche potential, however.  The likelihood of trashing skis on rocks is a good limiting factor to keep in mind if you get a wild hair to start exploring onto steeper slopes.  

All this clear weather is forming abundant surface hoar on top of all the faceted snow.  It’s going to be game-on for dangerous avalanches when we finally get new snow on top of all this junky base.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
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.
More info at Avalanche.org

Wind slab is not yet a problem as of this morning.  The National Weather Service is calling for increasing strong north winds across the region starting today.  

Remember, all we need is new stiffer snow on top of our current snowpack to complete the avalanche recipe.  Strong wind could be enough to build pockets of avalanche potential.

Thu, November 29th, 2012

Looks like another clear and cold day in paradise!  A strong temperature inversion can be found this morning, with ridgetop temperatures in the 20s and valley temperatures below 0.  Competing air masses, between a blocking High pressure across Alaska and a Low in the southern gulf of Alaska, will build strong pressure gradients across Southcentral Alaska and strong north wind.  This wind is expected to stay into Saturday.  The general pattern of a high pressure ridge in the Bering sea will persist into next week.

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).  

Wendy will issue the next advisory Friday morning, November 30th.

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/27/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Ridge
11/26/23 Turnagain Observation: Road report: Slide with dirt on Repeat offender
11/26/23 Turnagain Observation: Pete’s North
11/25/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan trees
11/21/23 Observation: Spokane Creek
11/20/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Magnum – PMS Bowl
11/19/23 Other Regions Observation: Sunnyside/Penguin
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Eddies
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Cornbiscuit
Riding Areas

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.