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Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Mon, January 5th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Expires
Tue, January 6th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
John Fitzgerald
The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE in the Alpine (above 2,500), where dense slabs 1-3′ in depth could be triggered in steep terrain today.   This is a low likelihood/high consequence scenario, in that avalanches, if triggered, have the potential to injure or bury a person.

The danger is LOW at Treeline (1,000-2,500′), where avalanches are unlikely.

Below Treeline (sea level to 1,000′) there is No Rating due to insufficient snow coverage.

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Mon, January 5th, 2015
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
No Rating (0)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
No Rating (0)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

Layers of weak snow continue to linger below the surface.  On Turnagain Pass the predominant layer of concern is buried surface hoar roughly 2 feet down.  This setup exists mainly above 2,500’.  In the Girdwood Valley and Summit lake areas that layer is facets and is less even in its distribution.  While it has been over 2 weeks since we have seen significant precipitation and about a week since significant winds have loaded slopes, the potential still remains for avalanches to occur on these buried weak layers.

The likelihood of triggering an avalanche anywhere from 1-3 deep is on the low end of the scale.  However, if one were to trigger an avalanche there is still the potential for avalanches to propagate across slopes and be large enough to carry, injure or bury a person.

Most surfaces are firm and supportable around the forecast area.  Slabs are generally strong and can support a lot of weight.  Trigger points in the form of shallow snow and steep rollovers are the most likely areas to initiate an avalanche today.  Slabs of this hardness can break above you making escape very difficult.

If venturing onto steep terrain practice good travel habits:
Expose only one person at a time
Utilize islands of safety for spotting and re-grouping
Identify escape routes in the event of a slab releasing
Communicate route decisions and plans within your group effectively
Be aware of groups above and below you and avoid exposing other groups to avalanche hazard

Additional Concern
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.
More info at Avalanche.org

An “outlier” concern today are old wind slabs.  High winds of a week ago created very dense slabs on the surface as thick as 1 foot.  These slabs have shown to be generally non-reactive.  However, it is still worth keeping these slabs in mind especially if getting onto steep (>40 degree) unsupported slopes.

Weather
Mon, January 5th, 2015

Clear, cold and calm was the name of the game yesterday.   Temperatures were more seasonable with ridgetop stations reporting in the teens F.   Winds have been light generally out of the Northwest and no new precipitation has fallen.

Today expect similar conditions, as a large ridge of High pressure continues its dominance over mainland Alaska.   Temperatures at ridgetops will be in the 20 degree F range.   Some valley locations will experience a strong inversion this morning and keep temps in the single digits F where valley fog has developed.   Winds will be light out of the East at 5-10mph.

Clouds should move over the area Tues night as a large band of moisture attempts to push up towards Southcentral AK from the South.   The next chance for precipitation will come mid to late week as the blocking ridge looks to potentially break down.

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 13 0 0 33
Summit Lake (1400′) 2 0 0 6
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 13 0 0 25

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 16 WNW 3 15
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 14 VAR 6 22
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Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 2020

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: mailroom_r10_chugach@fs.fed.us

Area Status Weather & Riding Conditions
Glacier District
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Turnagain Pass
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Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
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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.