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Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Mon, March 9th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Expires
Tue, March 10th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
John Fitzgerald
The Bottom Line

The danger is MODERATE on steep wind loaded slopes in the Alpine.   Wind slabs up to 1 foot in depth could be triggered by skiers and riders on a variety of aspects and be large enough to injure or bury a person.   Loose snow avalanches could also be triggered in steep terrain sheltered from recent winds.

The danger is LOW in the treeline elevations, where avalanches are unlikely.

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Mon, March 9th, 2015
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Low (1)
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
Low (1)
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
  • 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

Winds yesterday out of the South and West loaded slopes that don’t typically get loaded.  Yesterday my partner and I watched this loading as it happened.  Some areas were sheltered enough by surrounding terrain which prevented this from occurring.  What this means is that there are now 1-2 day old wind slabs up to a foot in depth on a variety of aspects.  On Turnagain Pass steep upper elevation North and East facing terrain is suspect.  In the Girdwood Valley one large natural avalanche released over the weekend as a result of recent winds on a Southeast aspect.  Winds will continue generally out of the Northwest today in the 20 mph range, helping to slightly increase the size and sensitivity of slabs.

Cardinal directions aside, it is more important to be able to recognize wind loaded slopes before you are on them.  Snow that looks pillowy, feels stiff or sounds hollow should be approached with caution in steep terrain.  Shooting cracks and collapsing are sure signs that the snow is unstable.  Probing with a ski pole, hand pits, and feeling with your skis or board will allow you to assess the snow below your feet.  Avoidance of terrain over 35 degrees with recent wind loading will be important today.

West winds loading East aspects along Seattle Ridge March 8, 2015

wind loading Seattle ridge

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Dry Loose
    Dry Loose
Dry Loose
Dry Loose avalanches are the release of dry unconsolidated snow and typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. These avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs.
More info at Avalanche.org

Areas sheltered from the winds will be holding 3-8” of low density snow.  On sustained slopes over 40 degrees, expect human triggered sluffing to occur.  These sluffs should be low to medium volume and large enough to knock a person over.  This problem becomes more pronounced when traveling above terrain traps such as gullies, cliff bands or trees.

Weather
Mon, March 9th, 2015

Clear, cold and windy sums up the weather over the past 24 hours.   Cold air moved in behind the system that left new snow throughout the region.   Winds yesterday were strong and blowing out of unusual directions (see video).   Clouds moved in late in the day and left a skiff of new snow.

Today expect similar conditions.   Ridgetop temperatures will be in the single digits F.     Winds will be out of the Northwest at 15-20mph.   Thin clouds and light flurries this morning will give way to clearing skies by the afternoon.

Clear skies and cool temps are on tap for the first half of the week as high pressure gradually sets up over Southcentral Alaska.   Winds should diminish after today.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 17 0 0 44
Summit Lake (1400′) 17 0 0 9
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 19 0 0 28

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 7 WNW 9 41
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 12 W 19 53
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Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 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

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Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
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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.