Surface conditions appear to be shaping up in the Turnagain zone after last weeks onslaught of rain up to about 3,500’ that deposited a stout crust in what is now our mid snowpack. Yesterday we found variable thickness wind slabs resting on this crust showing signs of good bonding. This wind slab is capped off by 6-8” of new low-density snow that fell on Saturday and Sunday with very little associated wind. Though no red flags were noted yesterday and stability tests did not produce any results, confidence in this forecast is low due to limited information and lack of travel into the upper elevations (above 3,000’) thus far. Where we expect this mid-pack rain crust to finally disappear (~3,500’) wind slabs could be a bit touchier. Approach these higher elevation alpine slopes with caution and evaluate the snow and terrain carefully before committing to a slope.
An ‘average’ snowpit in the mid-elevation band. Sunburst @ ~ 2,900 feet.
Glide cracks have been mostly covered up by this latest storm. In this instance though, out of sight does not mean out of mind. Keep a keen eye out for any new cracks opening up and steer clear of these dangerous features. Conditions are ripe for new glide crack formation, particularly in the Turnagain area. There is much to understand about this phenomenon but what is known is that these cracks can release very suddenly and without a real trigger. Your best bet is to limit your exposure by steering clear of glide cracks.
An additional concern today and for the foreseeable future involves the hazards associated with an early season snowpack. Many rocks, stumps and previous glide cracks are thinly covered with this most recent storm. Keep it conservative and in control, particularly in the lower elevations where snowpack is thinnest. There is A LOT of winter to still be had and nobody likes being injured, especially early in the season!
Snowpack is thin at the lower elevations. Expect to hike up to a half hour (Turnagain zone) before putting skis on.
Over the last 48-hours we’ve seen 6-8 € of new low-density snow fall at the mid and upper elevations with just a dusting at the highway level (1,000′) through Turnagain pass. Winds have been the big change over the last 2-days dropping off dramatically as we received this last bout of snow and averaging less than 10mph from the SE. The rain/ snow line continue its march toward sea level with another ~1,200 -1,400 vertical feet to go.
Today we may see a few lingering flakes in the eastern Turnagain arm area with light winds (4-8mph) from the West. Temperatures will continue a slight drop today and overnight with lows dipping into the mid-20’s at 1,000′. This evening and into tomorrow we’ll usher in an upper ridge of high-pressure that should leave us under blue skies and light to moderate winds on Wednesday.
Below are the new weather tables for this season that give a brief snapshot of the past 24-hours for key weather stations in Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake and the Girdwood Valley.
Also, for a more in-depth look at our seasonal weather history click HERE.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||31||0||0||19|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||25||0||0||0|
|Alyeska Mid (1539′)||35||0||0||2|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||28||variable||7||12|
|01/18/21||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs.||A Schauer|
|01/16/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||A Schauer Forecaster|
|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|
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.