It is a pleasure to report we have had new snow during the past two days! After an onslaught of rain up to 3,500′ on Tuesday, temperatures have dropped and Thursday we picked up around 6″ above 1,800′ with another 2″ yesterday – and add to that, another 1-3″ possible today. Numbers may be modest and the rain/snow line high, but it’s snow nonetheless.
Very strong winds have redistributed the new snow into variable drifts and slabs from a couple inches thick to 3′ in some locations. These sit on a uniform rain crust from Tuesday’s rain that extends up to 3,000′ and likely higher. Hence, the snow surface yesterday was a combination of new snow drifts and slabs with scoured and VERY SLICK rain crust in between.
For anyone venturing into the backcountry today, watch for current wind loading to increase the sensitivity of wind slabs. Yesterday, slabs were stubborn and showing signs of bonding to the preexisting surface (ice) well, yet this was in one location and is not a certainty. Steeper slopes approaching 40degrees should be approached with extra caution. Any ride, in even a small avalanche, could send you down an icy slope littered with rocks. Beware of the ice under the new snow. Performing hand pits and digging in the new snow to assess the new/old snow interface are good ways to suss out how well the slabs are bonding. Also, keep an eye out for any recent avalanches and cracking in the snow around you.
If you get out this weekend please let us know what you are seeing – pass on a photo or two and/or an observation!!
Below is a classic small cornice break during a period of wind loading (Sunburst 11/21 2,300′ SW facing).
A look at the snow line (~1,700′)
*High elevations over 4,000′: There is much uncertainty as to how much snow has fallen at these high elevations (Raggedtop Mtn for example) and if the faceted weak layer that was reported earlier in November remains under the bulk of the November snow. Under these circumstances, large avalanches are possible. Digging in the snow to assess the snowpack structure is a must if considering travel in these areas.
Watch for cornices to break under the weight of a person. Cornice growth has been significant during the past couple days at the high elevation ridgelines.
There are still a fair number of glide cracks littered about the mountains at elevations between 2,000-3,500′. Many of these are obscured by the new snow so keep an eye out and steer clear from being under cracks. Although we have seen no new glide avalanche activity for close to a week, these unpredictable avalanches are something to avoid as a general rule.
During the past 48-hours we have seen 6-8+ inches of new medium density snow at the mid and upper elevations with rain at the lower elevations. Strong Easterly winds averaging 20-30 mph with gusts in the 50’s accompanied the new snow. The rain/snow line has been 1600-1800′ after dropping substantially from 3000+’ earlier in the week.
Today, an additional 1-3″ of snow is possible above 2,000′ and rain below. Ridgetop winds have decreased overnight where they are expected to remain, in the 15-25mph with stronger gusts from the East. Temperatures will stay near the mid 30’sF at 1,000′ and the mid 20’sF on the ridgelines. Skies should remain mostly cloudy with a few breaks in the clouds through the day.
Sunday and Monday conditions look remarkably similar. A large low pressure system spinning in the Gulf will keep the Eastern Turnagain Arm area under off-and-on snow showers above 1,500-2,000′ with 2-5″ of snow accumulation each day (.2-.7 rain below 1,500′).
Below are our new tables for this season that will spell out the past 24-hour weather data for key weather stations in Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake and Girdwood Valley.
Also, for a better look at November’s weather see our monthy chart HERE.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||33||1||0.2||15|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||34||0||0||0|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||35||0||0.1||6|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||28||NE||12||32|
|01/23/21||Turnagain||Observation: Seattle Ridge||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/23/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||Matti Silta|
|01/22/21||Turnagain||Observation: JOHNSON PASS||Anonymous|
|01/20/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Johnston-Bloom / Roberts Forecaster|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Cornbiscuit||Schauer/ Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst and Tincan||CNFAIC Staff|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||CNFAIC Staff|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan 2900′ SW aspect below Hippy Bowl.||Kris Marshall|
|01/18/21||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs.||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/16/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||A Schauer Forecaster|
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: email@example.com
|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.