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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, February 3rd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, February 4th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Most terrain in the Turnagain Pass and surrounding regions has a  LOW avalanche danger. Exceptions are isolated older wind slabs sitting on weak snow. These will most likely be found in areas that have seen wind in the past week and can be identified by a stiff and smooth surface.  

Special Announcements
Tue, February 3rd, 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

Today marks the 18th day since the last significant precipitation has fallen in the Eastern Turnagain Arm area. Since then, we have had a few inches of snow fall here and there. Otherwise, cold and clear weather has been stabilizing the snowpack and loosening the snow surface.

The main issue avalanche-wise are the interesting wind patterns during the past week of high pressure. Very localized winds from all directions have moved the loose surface snow around enough to form wind slabs in scattered zones. These are not found everywhere, but should be on our radar nonetheless. One of these was found and triggered by a party two days ago in the Seattle Creek drainage. Of note for this slab was its lower elevation location (2,400′). Often these types of slabs are relegated to the higher terrain. That said, surface instabilities to watch out for:

Wind Slabs:
Shallow wind slabs have been found scattered about in exposed areas, including mid-elevation terrain. Keep an eye out for changing surface texture and areas where the snow is smooth, stiff and may have a hollow feel. These areas should be relatively easy to identify since much of the surface is soft. Committing rocky and steep terrain will be the most concerning place to find a slab; as once you identify it, avoiding it could prove challenging. 

Loose Snow Avalanches:
Cool temperatures and clear skies continue to loosen and facet the snow surface. Sluffs on steep slopes, > 40 degrees, should be expected, though remain relatively low volume and manageable.

Additional Concern
  • Announcement

Weather – or lack thereof, rather – could be called an “additional concern” for many of us, eh? Maybe not in the avalanche sense, but in the psychological one. Below are a couple charts illustrating the season’s snowpack to date. These data are taken from the Turnagain Pass Snotel station on Center Ridge at 1880‘. Roughly, we have 1/3 the snowpack we normally do this time of year. At the lower elevations, 1,000’ and below, anyone that has been out will know it is mush less than this.

Caution: Look and digest graphs below at your own risk! 



A bit more of a write-up and graphs can be found HERE.

Tue, February 3rd, 2015

Yesterday was marked by sunshine, light and variable ridgetop winds and temperatures in the mid 20’s F. Overnight, winds have shifted to the Northwest and climbed into the 5-10mph range.

Today, we should see sunny skies once again with temperatures in the mid 20’s F at all elevations except for valley bottoms where colder air is pooling. Winds are forecast to remain in the 5-10mph range from the Northwest.

As for the future? Snow? This remains out of the foreseeable future. The very persistent ridge of high pressure over us will continue its strong hold. Sunny skies are in store for over a week from now. The outflow winds associated with the high pressure will the wild card for this week and into the weekend.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 24   0   0   32  
Summit Lake (1400′) 11   0    0  7
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 24   0   0   20  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 25   var   4   10  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 24   S   6   16  
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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.