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Mon, March 24th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Tue, March 25th, 2014 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW at all elevations.   Avalanches are unlikely today.   Exceptions to this are possible, mainly in the form of wet loose avalanches and cornice falls.   Big alpine terrain and steep slopes in the lower elevations will be the most likely places to encounter these issues.

Good travel habits remain important.   These include exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves.

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Mon, March 24th, 2014
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

The middle part of March brought a series of loading events, dropping 3-5 feet of snow in many locations.  Since that time the snowpack has settled, weak layers have adjusted to new loads, and mild weather have all contributed to stabilizing the snowpack.  Despite this, it is still remotely possible to encounter the following:

Wet Loose avalanches
Very steep sunlit terrain and steep slopes in the lower elevations hold the potential for low volume point releases.

Give cornices a wide berth.  Stay off of them by knowing where they connect to underlying terrain.  Minimize your time below them as well.

Old Wind Slabs
Winds that kicked up 4 days ago created shallow wind slabs up to a foot deep in the higher elevations.  These slabs have been mostly unreactive with one reported exception.  

Deep Slabs
Weak layers of snow buried 2-5 feet deep exist.  The deep slab problem is in a dormant phase but is worth remembering for now.  It would take a very large trigger (large group of snowmachines or people) to wake up these layers.  Thin spots of the snowpack in very steep terrain would be the most likely place for an outlier event like this to occur.

Keep in mind that LOW danger does not mean NO danger.  Continuing to utilize good travel habits will afford the ability to minimize exposure to these exceptions to the current snowpack norms.

Mon, March 24th, 2014

It has now been 10 days since any significant precipitation has fallen.   Temperatures over the past 24 hours at the Sunburst station (3,812′) have averaged 26 degrees F.   Winds there have been very light, averaging 5 mph out of the East with a max gust of 12 mph.

Today will be much like yesterday; sunny and mild with calm winds.   Temperatures at 1,000′ will climb into the high 30s F.   Winds will be out of the East at 5-10mph.

A very large ridge of high pressure is dominating the weather across most of Alaska.   This ridge is preventing any and all moisture from pushing into the region.   This pattern is now well established and looks to remain that way through most of the week.

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/25/24 Turnagain Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
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
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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.