Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Fri, January 9th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Expires
Sat, January 10th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Heather Thamm
The Bottom Line

Today the avalanche danger is MODERATE at both Treeline and in the Alpine. Small human triggered wet avalanches are possible on very steep slopes and wind slabs 1-2′ deep could be found at elevations above 3500′. Avoid steep slope angles and in general be careful €“ the snow conditions are relatively poor and also ripe for non-avalanche related injuries.  

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Fri, January 9th, 2015
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Moderate (2)
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
Moderate (2)
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
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.
More info at Avalanche.org

In the last 24hours a low-pressure system has brought us very warm temperatures (40’sF) at sea level and rain to 3000’. In Turnagain Pass .5” of water was recorded and double that amount in Girdwood.

No avalanche activity was reported or observed yesterday, but today small wet loose avalanches are the primary concern in areas where low-density snow is poorly bonded. Rain saturating the snowpack can cause this type of snow to weaken and fail, more easily than in denser snow.

It is important to understand that our current snowpack is comprised of large areas of dense supportable snow in the Alpine, but pockets of weaker snow do exist. Triggering a wet loose avalanche requires a steep slope (>40°) and could be larger on sustained slopes. Today this problem will be more likely at mid elevations where there are greater areas of low-density snow.

Expected this type of avalanche to be slow to initiate, meaning they take a little time to gain momentum. Use caution if you choose to ski/ride in steep terrain today.  This kind of avalanche problem is wet and heavy and can easily grab your ski/board and pull you down.

Today light precipitation (0.1”) is expected throughout the day and rainline may decrease to 1000’. This is not enough precipitation to increase the likelihood of natural avalanches. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

At higher elevations, above 3500’, where snow has accumulated there is potential for wind slabs. Yesterday ridgetop winds were from the East and averaged 30mph. Avoid wind loaded leeward slopes if you venture above 3500’. Small pockets 1-2’ deep could be found on leeward sides of ridges and along terrain features such as gullies.

Luckily today with marginal weather and poor surface conditions this terrain will not be very attractive to ski/ride.  In fact your day might be better spent tuning your skis with a warm colored wax and saving gas money in hopes of improved conditions in the coming days. 

Additional Concern
  • 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

We have been tracking several types of buried weak layers over the last three weeks. Recent loading in the last 24hours in the form of rain combined with warm temperatures could be adding additional stress. A persistent slab is more likely to be triggered on very steep slopes and in places with a generally thinner snowpack like the Summit Lake area. This problem is becoming a bit of an outlier, but we do feel it is worth keeping in the back of your mind if you are thinking about venturing onto sustained steep slopes. 

Weather
Fri, January 9th, 2015

Yesterday a warm low-pressure system brought us temperatures into the 40’s F at sea level and rainline was near 3000′. Ridgetop winds were predominantly from the East averaging 30mph and .5 inches of rain was measured in Turnagain Pass and just over 1 € in Girdwood.

Today warm temperatures and very light rain will persist throughout the day. Rainline may creep down to about 1000′, but only a trace of new snow is expected to fall at higher elevations. Ridgetop winds are expected to be 20- 40mph from the East.

Warm temperatures and light precipitation will continue into the weekend with our next chance for cooler temperatures on Saturday night. Winds should be light to moderate from the East.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 38   0   0.5   30  
Summit Lake (1400′) 37   0   0.5   6  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 37   0   1.17   23  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 31   E   29   64  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 33   ENE   26   58
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Riding Areas
Updated Mon, October 26th, 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
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Closed
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Closed
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Turnagain Pass
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Closed
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Carter Lake
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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.