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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
Tue, December 25th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Expires
Wed, December 26th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
The Bottom Line

Merry Christmas!   Skiers and riders got a big Christmas present today in the form of the biggest storm of the year…   Unfortunately it’s too much to play with today.   Girdwood and Turnagain Pass are trying to adjust to 2-3 feet of new snow in the last 24 hours, which has the avalanche danger pegged at HIGH.   Even playing below treeline is going to be difficult and potentially dangerous with this much new snow.  

We are issuing an Avalanche Warning today, meaning HIGH avalanche danger can be found across a wide region.   Backcountry travel is not recommended.

This morning, natural avalanches have been reported along the Seward Highway and in Girdwood.   It’s undoubtedly avalanching spontaneously across the region, but the storm is too thick for us to see much yet.   Open your Christmas presents, relax, enjoy the day off, and be safe.

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Tue, December 25th, 2012
Alpine
Above 2,500'
High (4)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
High (4)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
High (4)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
High (4)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
High (4)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
High (4)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • 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 has been blowing into the 60s at the ridgetops along with all that new snow.  Natural avalanche activity started sometime yesterday and got bigger overnight as the new snow piled up.  Despite a taper expected this morning in the storm intensity, the possibility of natural and human triggered avalanches will remain high this morning.   With this much snow we can expect large avalanches to run down into valley bottoms, making safe areas difficult to determine even below treeline.  The best travel advice today is to stay away from the Kenai peninsula or go to Alyeska. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

Areas below treeline that are less wind affected will still have a huge amount of new snow.  All this new weight is sitting on a very weak base from early winter.  There is nothing good about this combination…  The stress of the new snow will be exceeding the strength of the underlying foundation.   Let’s give it time to go through the natural avalanche cycle before we go play in the new snow.

By mid afternoon yesterday the backcountry in Turnagain was already so deep that it was difficult to ski.  The snow depth has doubled since then…  Again, the best advice is to stay away until the snowpack has time to adjust to this massive new load. 

Weather
Tue, December 25th, 2012

24 hour storm totals as of 5am

Turnagain Pass – 24-30 inches snow, 2+ inches of water

Alyeska – 25-36 inches snow, 3+ inches of water

Wind reaching over 60 mph at most ridgetop weather stations.

Temperatures have risen during the storm, with some rain at low elevations.   The storm is expected to taper this morning both in wind and precipitation.   Tomorrow morning another pulse is expected to hit with more heavy snow and high wind across our region.   The Blizzard Warning is canceled, but the storm is not over.  


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 Wednesday morning December 26th.

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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.