Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, January 20th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, January 21st, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

There is a  LOW avalanche danger at all elevations in the forecast zone this morning. The danger may rise to MODERATE  this afternoon at the high elevations due to an increase in Northerly winds. If this is the case, watch for shallow wind slabs being formed – up to 6-8″ thick.

Remember, LOW doesn’t mean NO. If you are venturing to the high peaks, finding a fresh wind slab will be possible. This is most likely in the periphery of our forecast area, such as the Portage Valley and Summit Lake regions.

Special Announcements

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Dasan Marshall  who passed away in a climbing accident on Sunday. Media article is HERE.

Tue, January 20th, 2015
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

One of the primary concerns in the backcountry remains the challenging approach-to-the-snow conditions from the parking lot. With little to no snow below 1,500′, ascending and descending over very slick ice covered ground can get interesting. However, winter does exist in full fashion above 2,500′ and quality riding and skiing conditions can be had.

There is one potential game changer for later today, however. The wind. Winds are on tap to shift to the North this morning and increase just enough to move snow around by this afternoon. If you are out in the ‘winter-zone’ today, keep tabs on the winds and know that loading patterns may be different than expected as this is not a typical wind direction.

With 4-6″ of loose snow blanketing the surface, including ridgelines, there is plenty of snow available for forming soft 6-8″ wind slabs. These will be easy to identify as you will likely see them forming or by looking for smooth rounded surface textures. Stiffer feeling snow and cracking is also a sign you have found a wind slab. If slabs do form, they are likely to be relatively small and shallow yet sensitive to human triggers. 

Glide Avalanches – 
Glide cracks continue to slowly open across the forecast zone. Limiting time spent around and under these is crucial. Even though it is cold, they are still known to release producing a destructive avalanche – as can be seen in the photo below. Most suspect terrain are unsupported slopes where there is limited compressive support for the slab from below. Eddies is a great example of this as the South face gets steeper mid and lower-slope.

Recent glide avalanche (suspected past 48 hours). Eddies South face, ~2,700′.

Tue, January 20th, 2015

Mostly clear skies greeted folks in the backcountry yesterday. Mid level clouds were just starting to inch their way in midday along with a slight bump in Northeasterly ridgetop winds, 10-15mph. Temperatures remained cool, ~30F at 1,000′ and in the low 20’s F on the ridgelines.

Today, ridgetop winds should bump up to the 15-20mph range from a Northerly direction. Cloud should also stream through due to a tight low pressure system which is moving north passes us to the East. Temperatures should remain near 32F at 1,000′ and in the low to mid 20’s F on ridgetops. No precipitation is expeced.

A mostly quiet and sunny day is expected for Wednesday while another large area of low pressure rolls in from the Gulf on Thursday. Stay tuned for this next precipitation event.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 28   0    0 29  
Summit Lake (1400′) 25   0  0 7  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 29   0    0 19  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 21    E 12   32  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 23   N/A Wind   sensor is   rimed  
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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.