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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
Sat, January 5th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sun, January 6th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
The Bottom Line

Recent avalanche activity tells us that the mountains are still reactive in a deep and dangerous way.   Above treeline we can expect CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger.   Natural avalanches are still possible, but human triggered avalanches are the bigger concern.   With the deep slab problem we don’t expect a lot of avalanches to happen, but those that do will be large and destructive.   Below treeline, watch for large runouts hanging above and continue to treat every steep slope with respect.

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Sat, January 5th, 2013
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Considerable (3)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Considerable (3)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Deep Persistent Slabs
    Deep Persistent Slabs
Deep Persistent Slabs
Deep Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a thick cohesive layer of hard snow (a slab), when the bond breaks between the slab and an underlying persistent weak layer deep in the snowpack. The most common persistent weak layers involved in deep, persistent slabs are depth hoar or facets surrounding a deeply buried crust. Deep Persistent Slabs are typically hard to trigger, are very destructive and dangerous due to the large mass of snow involved, and can persist for months once developed. They are often triggered from areas where the snow is shallow and weak, and are particularly difficult to forecast for and manage.
More info at Avalanche.org

Recent avalanche activity is the most pertinent information we have available, and it’s telling us a compelling story right now.  Yesterday we had a new avalanche on the north end of the motorized side of Turnagain Pass, with wide propagation on an east facing slope.  Around 850 in the morning yesterday the large avalanche path between Portage lake and the Whittier tunnel entrance slid full width and full depth.  On Wednesday a large avalanche was triggered on Tincan by a skier, then we got another foot of snow.  If you haven’t watched the video by Alyeska ski patrol yet, it’s worth taking a few minutes to see their perspective of managing the same deep slab problem at the ski area.

Our weak layer is now buried 3-10 feet deep, depending on wind loading.  It is difficult for a single person to affect something that deep, but if a collapse is initiated from a shallow trigger point the resulting avalanche is likely to be very large.  A skier should be concerned about trigger points in steeper terrain, including near exposed rocks, sparse trees, or on the edge of a wind scoured ridge.  Snowmachines cause a greater force on the snow and will be more likely to be a deep slab trigger.  Slope angles above 35 degrees deserve extra caution and avoidance, and every aspect is affected.

Common tools to identify avalanche hazard with this deep slab problem are not likely to be effective.  Don’t expect to see shooting cracks or hear whoomphing, because that weak layer is buried deeper than your ski pole.  Test slopes will also not show an unstable character unless they break full depth, which is what we’re trying to avoid in the first place.   Compression tests on isolated snow columns may indicate false stable results.  All this information is superseded by evidence of natural avalanche activity and a weak layer which we know is not gaining strength quickly.

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

Forecasted wind is enough to create fresh wind slabs.  We have yet to notice a problem within the storm layers of the last 12 days, but that’s mainly because few people have ventured above 2500 feet.  Wind slabs are a concern of their own, but combined with a deep slab step down potential they can be extra dangerous. 

Weather
Sat, January 5th, 2013

Little to no precipitation in the last 24 hours and moderate wind has not added much to the avalanche problem.   Today 2-6 inches of snow is expected with strong southeast wind at the ridges.   Slightly colder temperatures are expected to keep the snow line down to sea level.  

In the long term, a chance of snow is in the forecast every day for the next 4 days.   We will stay in the active pattern into next week, but not as intense as we’ve seen recently.


Wendy will issue the next advisory on Sunday, January 6th.

Observations
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Riding Areas
Updated Mon, October 26th, 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
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.