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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Issued
Wed, December 11th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, December 12th, 2013 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

We continue to have an overall  LOW  avalanche danger in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. Avalanche activity is unlikely. The main concerns for backcountry travelers are conditions associated with an early season and thin snow cover.

This advisory will extend through tomorrow, Wednesday. The next advisory will be Thursday morning, December 12th.

Wed, December 11th, 2013
Alpine
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
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

The recent cold temperatures, after the early December warm spell, have essentially tied the surface of our snowpack together with a crust. The crust is unsupportable in most areas and breaking through into the weak sugar snow below can make skiing and riding challenging. You can see a few recent observations discussing this HERE and HERE.

Again, the main hazards in the backcountry are rocks and other objects near the snow surface. I would also argue that an additional hazard is negotiating the ‘ankle grabbing’ surface crust. 

Snowpack Discussion:
A layer of surface hoar has formed on the top of our snowpack during the past few days. This is anchored to the crust that caps the snowpack and forms a surface hoar/crust combination. Though the combo not dangerous now, it will have our attention when we get our next shot of snow and a slab forms on top. 

           
Surface hoar on Seattle Ridge (2,500′). Photo: Fitz                  Surface hoar on breakable crust near Ingram Creek. Photo: Bob Sutherland

Weather
Wed, December 11th, 2013

During the past 24-hours we have been on the north side of a large low pressure system sitting well to our south. This has brought cloud cover but no precipitation to our zone. Temperatures have been in the 20’s F at most locations and wind light from the southeast.

This pattern will remain through the day before it breaks down and colder air ushers in from the north tomorrow. We can expect partly cloudy skies today with temperatures remaining in the mid to upper 20’s F across the board. We do have a chance for a few flurries. Winds will be light and variable before turning northeast tonight with the approach of the colder polar air. Wednesday we should see skies clear and temperatures in the teens and single digits with light northerly winds.

If you have read this far in the advisory you may be happy to hear that a shift in our weather pattern is coming this weekend. Confidence looks to be high at the NWS that a decent precipitation event is headed our way. Let’s cross our fingers the models are right. See their full discussion HERE.

Observations
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/24/24 Turnagain Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
02/22/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Lynx Creek
02/22/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
02/20/24 Turnagain Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
02/19/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Lynx creek
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
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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.