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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
Wed, January 9th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, January 10th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Kevin Wright
The Bottom Line

Sunny skies today after 2 solid weeks of stormy weather will make today the most likely day for somebody to die in an avalanche.   Another large avalanche was triggered late yesterday in Turnagain Pass on the snowmachine route up to Seattle Ridge.   The snowpack is still reactive to human triggers, and despite a decreasing possibility of causing an avalanche, if one is triggered it will be large, deep, and deadly.   A CONSIDERABLE hazard can be found above treeline, meaning human triggered avalanches are likely.   Conservative route choices are essential.    

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Wed, January 9th, 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

Last night we got reports of an avalanche on Repeat Offender, the site of the large fatal avalanche in 1999.  A group of snowmachiners had just started descending the standard trail from Seattle ridge when it released remotely 100 yards away.  Initial reports estimate the size as 600-1200 feet wide.  It undoubtedly took the entire depth of the snowpack, breaking on old October and November weak layers.  Reports say that Main Bowl also slid on the west side of the ridge.

The deep slab problem is difficult to understand because it won’t show signs of instability until it avalanches in a big way.  You also won’t see a lot of slopes avalanching on the same day, meaning that the mountains will look good and enticing.  The problem is that when you find a trigger point, the resulting slide will be much bigger than you want.  This is a low frequency, but very high consequence problem that is difficult to predict.

We have compiled ample evidence to show that the mountains are ripe for this to happen again.  Over 10 feet of new snow in the last 2 weeks has already brought down a number of large avalanches including at Tincan, Seattle ridge, Johnson Pass, Portage, and elsewhere.  This is the most dangerous persistent deep slab problem we’ve had in our region in a number of years.  The only way to avoid becoming a statistic is to alter our behavior and choose conservative, lower angle terrain.

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

Yesterday we found a small reactive wind slab in the top 6 inches of surface snow at treeline.  Wind deposit areas may have this layer of stiffer, less stable snow.  Compared to the deep slab issue, this is a relatively minor and manageable problem. 

Weather
Wed, January 9th, 2013

A few inches of colder snow fell yesterday with light wind in the mountains.   Today is likely to be the first day since December 22nd without any snowfall.   Expect sunny skies and light wind in the mountains with slightly colder temperatures.  

The clear weather will give way to another weak storm tonight, with snow expected again tomorrow and a return to warm and moist flow by the weekend.

Observations
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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.