We had little trouble finding a layer of buried surface hoar in our snowpits yesterday. It is present and reactive, as expected above roughly 2,700’ where the snowpack dries out significantly. This current set up consisting of a stout crust (bed surface) capped by surface hoar (weak layer) and buried by a fresh slab (strong snow) is sort of a ‘perfect storm’ for avalanches. We have seen this over the last 48 hours with several natural avalanche observations coming in from across the region. The commonality with this most recent avalanche cycle is that slides are initiating in the dry snow at upper elevations and very likely running on this layer of buried surface hoar. Today the message is simple: avoid terrain steeper than 35 degrees, and make conservative travel decisions. This includes the terrain adjacent to or directly under avalanche slopes as the nature of this weak layer/ bed surface combo can allow for wide propagation and triggering avalanches remotely, including from below.
In the lower elevations (below ~2,500’) where the snowpack is moist, the slab appears to be gaining strength over time and as temperatures drop. The primary concern in this elevation band is one of exposure from alpine start zones.
Quick snapshot of the bed surface/ weaklayer/ slab combo found in the mid to upper elevations of Turnagain pass. This snowpit is at 2,800′ on the west ridge of Sunburst (common approach).
The most recent storm (Saturday €“ Tuesday) brought another slug of unseasonable warm temperatures into our region with rain at sea level and the snow line fluctuating between 1,500 €“ 2,000′. Yesterday was an attempt for the weather to return to something closer to €˜normal’ with the snow line dropping to around 500′ in the eastern Turnagain arm region. Locals in Girdwood even called in to report sighting of snowflakes hitting the valley floor (though not sticking)! With temperatures fluctuating around 34 degrees at sea level it was still mostly rain yesterday.
In Turnagain pass (1,000′) the temperature was right at 32 degrees during the daylight hours with skies producing off and on snow showers and 1-2 € of accumulation. Winds yesterday were consistently from the east in the 10-20mph range and a few gusts into the 30’s.
Today’s weather looks to be on the quiet side as we are in between storms and should be feeling the effects of a short wave ridge of high pressure. Temperatures at a1,000′ will be in the low 30’s with perhaps just a trace of snow falling. Expect winds to be in the single digits today at ridgetop locations, shifting slightly to a northeasterly direction with the approach of our next low pressure system.
We’ll begin to feel the effects of a powerful low-pressure system spinning into the Gulf of Alaska late tonight and into tomorrow. Our rain/ snow line should hold around the 500′ level with snow falling through Turnagain pass.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||30||2||.1||29|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||28||0||0||4|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||31||5||.4||19|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||25||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|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|
|01/08/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst meadow between Hemlocks||Anonymous|
|01/08/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||Wagner / Schauer|
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.