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Thu, February 13th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Fri, February 14th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

A few inches of new snow since yesterday will improve the already nice surface conditions around Turnagain pass.  

The main avalanche issues are holding steady – Below 3000 feet the soft snow may slide on a faceted layer above the prominent crust.  Above 3000 feet the soft snow may be stiffer and slabbier, but the presence of a weak interface is less common with the absence of the crust.  

MODERATE  danger is present in areas where wind has built cohesive slabby conditions above treeline.  Below treeline is  LOW  avalanche danger.

Special Announcements

There are still a few raffle tickets left for the February 21st drawing! Prizes include a day of Heli Skiing with  Valdez Heli-Ski Guides  and Alaska Airlines tickets  among other great prizes from our sponsors! You can catch up with the  Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center  at the  Midnight Sun Brewing Company  after 6PM this Friday and Sunday (14th and 16th) to pick up your ticket AND free swag!

Thu, February 13th, 2014
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
  • 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

By far the most common problem is related to recent snow on top of the prominent crust layer.  The 16+ inches that Turnagain Pass received on February 7th have been responsible for many reported avalanches since that storm.  The general trend of these avalanches is – small in size (12-20″ deep), lower volume, decent propagation across wind stiffened steep slopes.  Check out the observations page for a bunch of photos from the last 6 days, and this observation for a good quick synopsis of the problem.  

The 2 properties necessary to create avalanches that are not always found –

1.  A cohesive slab – some wind loading and stiffening is necessary to create connectivity of the surface snow, otherwise it’s just loose powder with sluff potential.

2.  A faceted interface between the new snow (Feb 7th storm) and the underlying crust (January melt/freeze) or old snow.  In places where the facets are present, this is a significant weak layer consisting of large loose grains with poor bonding.  


Thu, February 13th, 2014

Cold high pressure from early in the week has transitioned to a showery precipitation pattern as of yesterday afternoon.  A few inches of fresh light powder have fallen since Wednesday.  Temperatures remain quite cold, especially for snow to be falling, reaching into the negatives at many of our local weather stations.  Wind is generally light, although since about 4am the wind has increased slightly and switched over to a East Northeast direction.  Expect cloudy skies today with snow showers and 2-4 inches of snow accumulation today.

The extended forecast looks like more of this same pattern.  A low pressure system is anchored over the northwestern gulf, and expected to stay there well into next week.  Most precipitation from this event will be showery, but there is a chance for heavier snow events by the weekend.  

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
12/01/23 Avalanche: Sunburst
12/01/23 Turnagain Observation: Eddie’s trees
12/01/23 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain – God’s Country
11/30/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
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
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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.