Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, January 27th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, January 28th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Most terrain in the Eastern Turnagain Arm region has a LOW avalanche danger where triggering an avalanche will be unlikely. The exception is in the periphery zones such as Girdwood Valley, Portage Valley and Summit Lake where stiff wind slabs, formed by a  bump in Northwest winds over the weekend, may be found in exposed areas.

Tue, January 27th, 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

Although a skiff of snow is expected for the Anchorage area today, we continue to be snow-starved of late. The last significant precipitation to hit the Turnagain Pass region was 12 days ago now and with cold temperatures and generally light winds, the snowpack has adjusted into mostly strong and stable snow. However, there are a couple surface instabilities and other hazards to watch for if you are headed out for a day in the backcountry.

Surface Instabilities:

– Wind slabs
Over the weekend, Northwest winds blew enough in specific channeled terrain to build stiff and touchy wind slabs; Turnagain Pass itself, however, largely escaped the winds. We found several older wind slabs in the mid-elevation band in the Girdwood Valley yesterday. Keep an eye out for stiff hollow feeling snow and cracking and/or collapsing. These hard wind slabs can be triggered from below – so if found, managing your terrain to move around them will be key.

– Loose snow avalanches
The top several inches of the snowpack is becoming weaker and looser by the day with our cold weather. Triggering sluffs on steep terrain (> 40 degrees) should be expected and easily managed, as long as you are aware of them.

Other hazards found in the mountains:

– Low snow cover
At elevations below 2,000′ beware of hooking alders, hitting rocks, slipping on ice, etc.

– Glide avalanches
Glide cracks continue to litter the landscape and despite the cold temperatures, are still slowly opening. We have not heard of, or seen, a glide release for almost a week now. If you happen to see one – you’ll know because the bed surface will be very dark – let us know!

Tue, January 27th, 2015

During the past 24-hours we have seen partly cloudy skies and a slow rise in temperature. At all elevations temperature has risen from the single digits to the low teens. Ridgetop winds, that were in the 10mph range form the East yesterday, are light and variable this morning. The last precipitation was 2″ of low density snow three days ago.

We should see a nice day in the backcountry today with mostly clear skies and temperatures hovering between 10 and 20F at all elevations. Ridgetop winds are forecast to be light and variable.

Tomorrow, cloud cover looks to increase associated with a large area of low pressure that is spinning South of the Aleutians. However, the entrenched high pressure over mainland Alaska will keep most of the low from reaching our neighborhood. Yet, models are hinting at a chance we might see an embedded disturbance bring snow later this week. Stay tuned.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 12   0   0   31  
Summit Lake (1400′) 7   0   0   7  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 7   0   0   22  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 10   E   7   22  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 11 SW   7   23  
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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.