Turnagain Pass RSS

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Fri, January 30th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Sat, January 31st, 2015 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

In Turnagain Pass the avalanche danger is LOW above 1500′, both in the alpine and at treeline. LOW danger does not mean No danger; if venturing into extreme terrain isolated wind slab pockets 4-6 € thick and loose snow avalanches could be found and triggered on slopes steeper than 40 °. Both of these hazards are unlikely to bury a person, but could take you for a ride in undesirable terrain.

Below 1500′ only a few inches of snow covers the ground; not enough to issue an avalanche danger rating, but just enough snow to hide other hazards like rocks, ice, and dirt.  

Fri, January 30th, 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

Surface instabilities

Wind slabs

Over the last week the weather has been relatively benign with some ridgetops seeing periods of sustained moderate winds. Shallow pockets of wind deposited snow can be found up to 6” in places.  These shallow wind slab pockets are sitting on poorly bonded faceted snow, but have been mostly non-reactive in the Turnagain Pass zone. Less information exists in Summit Lake, Portage, and Girdwood Valley as well as upper elevations above 4000’. Within this larger zone there are places that have received more exposure to wind and finding a tender wind slab is possible. A wind slab if triggered is unlikely to bury a person, but could take you for a ride in the wrong spot. Use caution in high consequence terrain steeper than 40°.


Loose Snow

Only a trace of new snow was measured in the last 24 hours with only an additional inch expected today. If we receive more than a few inches today, you may see “sluffing” on steep terrain. In general this is a low hazard, but if riding or skiing on slopes steeper than 40° pay attention. Loose snow with enough volume and momentum can knock you off your feet.  


Other Hazards

Glide Cracks

No new glide activity or movement has been observed in the last few days. New snow and poor visibility can make it difficult to identify areas with glide cracks present. Use safe travel protocols when stopping to take a break and be aware of your run-out distances from terrain above you. 


Low snow coverage 

Below 1500’ low snow coverage is deceiving with only a few inches of new snow covering rocks, ice and vegetation. Take your time getting in and out of the alpine today.

View looking from Seattle Ridge South with Sunburst in the distance. Coverage is thin in the valley bottom, but looks much more like winter!

Fri, January 30th, 2015

Yesterday light snow fell throughout the day with only a trace of accumulation in both Girdwood and Turnagain Pass. Winds were light to moderate (5-15mph) from the East near Sunburst and Southwest at Seattle Ridge. Temperatures were in the low to mid 20’sF.  

Only a trace of snow is forecasted for today and skies are expected to clear this afternoon. Temps should be in the low to mid 20’sF. Ridgetop winds are expected to be light (5-10mph) from the Southeast.    

Tomorrow is looking very similar with more weak frontal air pushing into Western Prince William Sound. We may see scattered snow showers, but again we’re only anticipating a trace of new snow. Winds should be light to moderate from the East with temperatures in the mid to low 20’sF.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 25   trace   <0.1   31  
Summit Lake (1400′) 20   2   .2   7  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 23   trace   .03   19  


RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23   E   8   22  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25   SW   8   18  
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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.