Today will be our 9th day of high-and-dry weather conditions. This comes after a week-long onslaught brought up to 5′ of snow to many areas around Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Pass. Since then the snowpack has settled, weak layers have adjusted to the load, and mild weather have all contributed to stabilizing the snowpack.
How are the surface conditions? Well, variable. Northerly aspects have seen a fair amount of wind damage, yet amongst the hard wind slabs/crusts there is plenty of soft settled snow that can be found. Steeper slopes on southerly aspects have seen a melt-freeze regime, with sun crusts softening during the day. East and West are a bit of a combination. Slide-for-life conditions do exist out there and one party unfortunately found one of these areas Sunday. Check out their account HERE as well as the write up of a party that came on scene to help HERE. Thanks to these folks for writing in and we are glad all are ok!
Despite the unlikely event of triggering an avalanche, it is still possible to encounter the following:
This is the time of year (increased sun exposure and warm weather) that encourage cornice failure. Steering well clear of these from above and minimizing time below is recommended. There was a report the came in yesterday of a cornice fall that triggered a very large avalanche in Portage Valley – it is unclear when this event occurred but nonetheless, cornice falls are very serious and deserve respect when travelling in the mountains.
Wet Loose avalanches:
Steep terrain receiving intense sun should soften up by the afternoon. These steep southerly slopes hold the potential for wet point release avalanches or push-a-lanches (triggering a point release by pushing softened snow down a steep slope with a ski or boot/etc). Though they are likely to be low volume, if triggered in a long narrow chute they can entrain enough heavy snow to push you around and be a real concern.
Old Wind Slabs and Persistent Slabs:
As with any travel in extreme and committing terrain, finding an old wind slab is always something to keep in mind. Also, there are old weak layers of snow buried 2-5 feet deep – under the storm snow from mid-March. Although these weak layers have entered the dormant phase, it is still worth remembering for now. It would take a very large trigger (large group of snowmachines or people) to possibly initiate an avalanche. Thin spots of the snowpack in very steep terrain would be the most likely place for an outlier event like this to occur.
Yesterday was yet another day of clear skies and mild weather. During the past 24-hours ridge top temperatures have averaged in the mid to upper 20’sF and winds have been light (~5mph) from the East with a slight bump to 10-15mph for an hour early this morning. Overnight, a healthy inversion has set in with single digit temperatures in valley bottoms while the ridge tops are reading between 23 and 27F.
Another beautiful sunny day is in store for today. Temperatures are looking to be a bit warmer than the past few days with highs on the ridge tops reaching the low 30’sF and at 1,000′ the low 40’sF. Winds are forecast to remain light from the East, blowing around 5mph.
It looks like this stubborn blocking high pressure is here to stay well into next week. The NWS is hinting at a possible pattern change next week but time will tell.
|01/31/23||Turnagain||Observation: Johnson Pass area||Megan Guinn / W Wagner Forecaster|
|01/29/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Backdoor||AAS-Level 1 1/27-1/30|
|01/28/23||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Brooke Edwards|
|01/28/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||W Wagner|
|01/28/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Common||Tony Naciuk|
|01/27/23||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||John Sykes|
|01/27/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Lynx Creek||Megan Guinn / W Wagner|
|01/25/23||Turnagain||Observation: Cornbiscuit||John Sykes Forecaster|
|01/22/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Schauer/ Guinn|
|01/21/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||Elias Holt|
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.