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Fri, March 28th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Sat, March 29th, 2014 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

No news is good news.  Our current stretch of clear weather is reaching 2 weeks, and we haven’t had reports of significant avalanche activity since the end of that last storm.  

LOW  avalanche danger continues across the region.  The mountains are getting tracked up in this extended stretch without snowfall.  Steep terrain is getting tested extensively on a daily basis, without triggering avalanches.

Sunny south aspects are getting crusted over by daytime melting and nighttime freezing.  North aspects are still cold, east and west are also generally crust free.  Soft snow can be found in some places but not likely on south until possibly late in the day.

Fri, March 28th, 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

If we sound a bit like a broken record, it’s because conditions are not changing much day to day.  Stability remains very good.  Snow quality is variable with some good skiing and riding still to be found.  

The most likely mountain hazard right now seems to be unrelated to avalanches or snow stability.  2 helicopter rescues in the last week underscore the hostility of steep terrain even in perfect March weather.  This is a good reminder to be prepared and don’t let your guard down, especially when stepping it up to the big mountain steeps.  Sometimes crampons, ice axe, a rope and the mountaineering training to use them are warranted in our bigger mountain terrain.

Stability problems to look out for today:

Overhanging cornice features are unlikely to fall spontaneously, unless the temperatures really ramp up today.  They may fail if you add some weight and stress by walking/skiing/riding over them.  The first rule of cornices is to give them space.

Wet Loose avalanches:
We have yet to see much of this type of activity, but it is coming with longer and warmer days.  Keep it in mind on south facing aspects late in the day.

Old Wind Slabs:
Stiff snow is likely to be bonded well to the layers underneath.  However, be prepared for small plates to break off in steep terrain.  This isn’t really a burial hazard, but rather a “knock you off your feet” kind of hazard, which could be dangerous in high consequence terrain.

Fri, March 28th, 2014

The last storm ended on Friday 2 weeks ago.  

Skies look clear again today.  Wind will continue to be light.  Temperatures are freezing hard at night with lows into the teens or lower in some areas.  Daytime temperatures are reaching into the high 30s or more by afternoon.  The graph is the diurnal temperature fluctuation at Summit Lake from the last several days.

Weather through the weekend looks like a continuation of our current pattern.  There is a hinting of a pattern change in the longterm forecast, which may mean more clouds and possible precipitation next week.

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.