Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sat, January 19th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Sun, January 20th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Some snow this afternoon with moderate wind combined with the lingering deep persistent slab will keep us at MODERATE above treeline.   Fresh wind slabs will start to form today and get bigger by tomorrow.   The deep slab problem is the most dangerous specific issue.   While triggering the deep slab is becoming less likely, the consequences remain high.   Below treeline the danger is LOW.

Sat, January 19th, 2013
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
  • 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

The primary concern today is still the deep slab, which is becoming more stable over time.  We haven’t had reports of deep slab avalanches since Monday when the last storm system ended.  The snowpack is showing evidence of strengthening, but a number of tests consistently still show a low probability of initiating a large avalanche. 

This kind of deep slab problem needs to earn our trust.  We have growing confidence, but only to a certain point.  The consequences of causing a full depth avalanche still deserve our respect and some alteration in our terrain choices.  Areas with thinner snow cover are more suspect, and steep rocky terrain may hold the trigger points that could activate a large avalanche.

Now that the deep weak layer has been dormant for a few days we can expect a low possibility of triggering it.  A new significant snow load (which is in the weather forecast for tonight) will increase the chances of deep slab activity as additional stress gets added to the weak foundation (see picture below). 

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

The small amount of snow predicted to fall this afternoon will build wind slabs at higher elevations.  Based on the timing of this storm it looks like this problem will be minor today, but may build into a significant problem tomorrow. 

Sat, January 19th, 2013

A blizzard watch is in effect for Girdwood, Seward, and Whittier starting this evening.   It appears that this will not have a major effect on the daylight hours today, but it may cause a bump in the avalanche danger by tomorrow.   We can expect increasing wind and up to 5 inches of snow by this evening.  

If you are wondering how the mountains are doing for snow this year check out the graph below.   Our snow depth is slightly above average, and the Snow Water Content measured at 1880 feet at Turnagain Pass (below) is just barely below average.  


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.