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Tue, December 3rd, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wed, December 4th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

We have an overall LOW avalanche danger in the Turnagain Pass area. If you are traveling in the high elevations on steep terrain, over 40deg, the potential exists to find and trigger a lingering wind slab avalanche.

However, the main threat to a person skiing or snowboarding is hitting thinly veiled rocks. As for snowmachines, they are safe for now since the Chugach National Forest remains closed to motorized use due to the very shallow snow cover. We need more snow!

Special Announcements

Don’t miss out on tonight’s FREE fireside chat! The topic will be ‘Avalanche Rescue’, presented by CNFAIC director and retired Denali Rescue Ranger Kevin Wright. It will be held in Anchorage at the Alaska Avalanche School at 6:30pm. This is the second in a four part series. See the calendar tab for more details.

Tue, December 3rd, 2013
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

There is little to report from the backcountry avalanche-wise. The last avalanche activity seen was a small wind slab cycle on Nov 27th. These old and stubborn wind slabs are sitting on faceted snow and littered about the mountains. If you are traveling in steep terrain there is a chance you may be able to pop one of these off, most likely in a steep rocky area with no support for the slab from below. Though I think you’d have to try pretty hard to do this.

In general, the snowpack continues its weakening process under the clear skies. Despite the significant warming at the upper elevations yesterday, the snow remains cold, dry and faceted.


Average snowpack depths:
Above treeline, 15-30″
elow treeline, 12-15″

All that said, the real “Primary Concern” is hitting rocks. Below is a core shot to my partner’s ski yesterday – ouch.


Tue, December 3rd, 2013

A significant warm-up has been seen over the past 24 hours at the mid and upper elevations. This is due to a warm air mass that moved over us from the north and west. Check out the temperature trace at the Sunburst weather station  – a downright balmy 38 degrees mid-day yesterday!  The warm-up, however, is slow to reach the lower elevations which still sit in the single digits F. Winds have been light, 5-10mph, and variable to westerly on the ridge tops. Skies have remained clear.

A mild day is in store for today. Winds are forecast to make a shift to the south and remain light. Temperatures will be in the 20’sF to low 30’s in the mid and upper elevations while those at sea level rise into the upper teens to 20’s. Skies should remain clear with some thin high clouds in places.

Looking forward: the storm system that models were showing to move into Southcentral Alaska on Thursday is now looking to stay to our west. If this verifies, our next chance for snow is on the distant horizon.

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Eddie’s, Sunburst, Seattle, Cornbiscuit, Pete’s South
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass non-motorized side
05/12/24 Turnagain Observation: Warm up Bowl
05/07/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass Wet Slabs
04/29/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Turnagain aerial obs
04/27/24 Turnagain Observation: Johnson Pass
04/23/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Sunny Side
04/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Bertha Creek
04/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Spokane Creek
04/16/24 Turnagain Observation: Cornbiscuit
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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.