We have received a plethora of snowpack and avalanche observations from the skier side of Turnagain pass over the last several days thanks in part to the Alaska Avalanche School hosting a couple different courses in the Turnagain region over the weekend. A common theme since Saturday has been parties remotely triggering avalanches that are failing on a thin layer of facets above the January rain crust. This persistent weak layer seems to be most evident at elevations greater than about 2500’.
With a moderate load of new snow overnight and forecasted through today, this known weak layer will move closer to its tipping point. Terrain (such as the backside of Seattle ridge, snowmachiner side) that has not seen much traffic this season warrants extra caution today as the weak snow in these areas has not been tested by skiers or snowmachiners like it has in areas such as Tin Can and Sunburst. Slopes greater than 35 degrees deserve a wide berth when travelling on or underneath, specifically for the possibility of remotely triggering an avalanche.
For sledders, there is a lot of fun to be had in the flats without exposing your party to avalanche terrain today.
Snowfall amounts varied significantly during the last 24 hours across our zone with Girdwood picking up 12-16 inches, Turnagain pass picking up 1-2 inches and for comparison Anchorage accumulated about 6 inches. The lion’s share of this snow fell during a short but intense period yesterday evening and through the early morning hours though totals fell well short of the forecasted storm.
Storm slab avalanches will be of increased concern in areas that have seen favorable accumulation, spanning all elevations today. Included in this will be the possibility to trigger a wind slab on leeward slopes or cross-loaded gullies, as there is ample snow available for transport to build tender wind slabs. Though Turnagain saw less snow than other zones overnight, that area has been favored over the last several days of storms (since Friday).
Furthermore, loose snow avalanches are likely today in steep terrain above 35 degrees. Though usually a manageable problem, loose snow avalanches prove most hazardous when initiated above a terrain trap.
Cornices are growing quite large as of late. These “backcountry bombs” not only have a tendency to break much further back on a ridge than one expects but also have a great potential to initiate an avalanche on the slope below. Do not test your luck with cornices today (or ever for that matter!), as a fortunate outcome is highly unlikely.
*Note: The AKDOT webcam is working again on Turnagain Pass! Keep tabs on snowfall as well as the road conditions with this link.
Though yesterday’s winter storm warning was canceled mid-day and we didn’t quite see forecasted snowfall amounts, there was a brief and intense burst of snowfall from about 5PM last night to 2AM this morning. Areas north of Turnagain pass including Whittier, Portage, Girdwood and Anchorage all woke up to measurable snowfall.
Yesterday in the core advisory area (Turnagain Pass), temperatures reached the mid to high 20’s with winds peaking around noon in the mid-20mph range. Skies were broken all day during the daylight hours with no snow accumulating during the day.
Today we can expect slightly cooler temperatures in the low to mid-20’s with light winds out of the south east. 2-4 inches of snow is expected throughout the day before tapering off into the overnight hours. Tomorrow looks to be the best chance for some sunny skies before we return to what appears to be an active weather pattern for the weekend.
|01/15/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Schauer/ Wunnicke Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Johnston-Bloom / Moderow Forecaster|
|01/13/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Rec Level 1 Roberts|
|01/12/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge/Center Ridge||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/11/21||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Trees||Schauer/ Roberts Forecaster|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Observation: Center Ridge Meadows||Alaska Avalanche School Pro 1 Course Latosuo|
|01/10/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan trees||Anonymous|
|01/09/21||Turnagain||Observation: Johnson Pass||Anonymous|
|01/08/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst meadow between Hemlocks||Anonymous|
|01/08/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||Wagner / Schauer|
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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.