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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
Sun, March 3rd, 2013 - 7:00AM
Expires
Mon, March 4th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
The Bottom Line

We have a MODERATE avalanche danger today for wind slab avalanches above treeline and persistent slab avalanches below treeline. An increase in easterly wind is expected to load upper elevation south and west aspects. Areas of most concern will be near ridgelines, rollovers and cross-loaded gullies. Additionally, below 3,000′ in the Placer Valley, 20-Mile, Grandview and Summit Lake regions various weak layers exist 2-6′ below the surface. There is the possibility a person could trigger one of these weak layers that results in a larger and more dangerous avalanche.

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Sun, March 3rd, 2013
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
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
Moderate (2)
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
  • 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 avalanches will be our primary concern today as ridgetop winds have increased overnight. These are blowing steady at 15-20mph from the east and should continue through the day. Though the wind did kick up two nights ago creating shallow slabs and wind crusts, there still remains plenty of loose snow on the surface to be blown into new slabs and drifts today. Watching for winds actively loading slopes along with stiff and hollow feeling snow that may crack around you will be your best clues to avoid triggering a wind slab.

Additional Concerns:

Cornices – Cornices have grown steadily the past few storms and though several have fallen many are still looming. Avoiding these from both above and below will be prudent.

Loose snow avalanches – Sluffs should be fairly easy to initiate on steeper slopes sheltered from the wind again today. Scattered wind crusts and southerly aspects that may have a thin sun crust should help to limit sluffs.

Recent avalanche activity:
Yesterday’s sunny Saturday was not missed by many. Several folks were out enjoying the powder with human triggered avalanche activity confined to shallow (4-8″) wind slabs and loose snow sluffing. Natural activity came in the form of cornice falls and sun induced point releases on southerly aspects. There was one very large cornice that fell midday yesterday onto the south face of Magnum Ridge (image below). This backcountry bomb did trigger a few slabs on the way down that look to be mainly in the recent 3′ of storm snow. Right under the cornice it was scoured to the rocks and may have pulled out a couple pockets of snow breaking near the ground. More footage of this can be found HERE.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

There exist a few layers of concern buried several feet below the surface that we continue to mention. The first one involves various facet/crust combinations below 3,000’. We have not seen any avalanche activity on these layers in the Turnagain Pass region but they are suspect in the Placer Valley, 20-Mile, Grandview and Summit Lake areas (below 3,000’). The second layer of concern deals with weak snow near the ground in areas with a shallow snow cover. This problem is mainly confined to the mountains of the interior Kenai. Triggering an avalanche that breaks at one of these buried weaknesses is more of an outlier event but could be quite large. Safe travel practices, including limiting exposure time in avalanche paths and runnout zones, is a good way maximize a safe day playing in the backcountry.

 

Weather
Sun, March 3rd, 2013

Yesterday’s stellar day of blue skies, light east wind and temps in the upper 20’s has given way to high clouds overnight. These are associated with a low pressure system centered south of the Aleutians that will be skirting us to the south. Light snowfall has begun to fall in a few areas and ridgetop winds have bumped up from the east averaging 15-20mph with gusts to 40mph. Temperatures are holding steady around 20F on the ridgelines and 30F at sea level.

Today we can expect light snowfall to continue but is only expected to add up to an inch or so. Winds are likely to remain moderate from the east €“ averaging 15-20mph with gusts to 40mph. Temperature should stay in the mid 20’sF on the ridgetops but rise a bit at sea level to the mid 30’s where a spitting rain/snow mix is expected.

Tomorrow this system will continue to the southeast and we should see winds decrease and shift to more of a southwest direction. There is a chance for flurries tomorrow but partly cloudy skies with decent visibility is possible too.


Fitz will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, March 4th.

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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.