Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast
The avalanche danger in the backcountry will climb to MODERATE as a spring storm enters the advisory area with a change in weather from the past few days. Above treeline 8-10 € of new snow coupled with 20-40 mph winds from the East will build wind slabs in the 1-2 foot range. These will be sensitive to human triggers today, particularly on north and west (leeward) slopes.
Near treeline, a rain/ snow mix may be enough to initiate wet loose activity or potentially a wet slab avalanche in steep terrain.
An additional concern to be aware of during this first week of spring comes in the form of growing and weakening cornices. Simply put; avoid them.
CNFAIC staff have completed an accident report for the avalanche fatality in Cantwell on March 14th, 2015. This is Alaska’s second fatal avalanche of the 2014/15 season and the seventh in the US this winter. Please take a few minutes to read this report and share it with your skiing and riding partners as there is always a lesson to be learned in light of a tragic accident such as this.
With another spring storm moving in from the southeast we can expect wind slabs to be touchy for the next 24 hours, particularly above 2,000’ as moderate easterly winds rake through the advisory area. This is a direct-action avalanche problem meaning we can expect fresh wind slabs to be sensitive to human triggers during and immediately following this storm. Expect wind slabs to be in the 12- 24” range and relegated to the new snow accumulating on slick sun crusts and weak faceted snow.
Red flags such as shooting cracks or whumphing in the snowpack are likely to be present in areas where wind slabs exist and should be interpreted as nothing other than unstable snow! Best practices today and during this storm will be to avoid convexities and steep rollovers where these fresh wind slabs exist. This is particularly important if a slope ends in a terrain trap such as a gully or flat bench where avalanche debris can accumulate.
Temperatures yesterday were very warm for March. If the rain/ snow line climbs to near 2,000’ today, wet loose avalanches may come in to play. Wet loose activity or roller balls may initiate a wet slab near treeline elevations as well. Given the freeze/ thaw activity over the last week, the potential for a wet slab release is low but worth mentioning if temperatures rise and rain on snow becomes a reality.
Seattle ridge as seen from the motorized parking lot looking North. This photo was taken at 5:30pm and the temperature at 1,000′ was 46 degrees.
Cornices will further ripen with today’s sticky spring-storm. We haven’t seen these fail naturally in earnest yet but rest assured they are losing strength and drawing closer to that point of failure. Though beautiful to look at, avoid time spent below a cornice and stay well back from corniced ridges.
Yesterday saw the slow approach of a front associated with a low in the northeast Gulf of Alaska. Skies were partly cloudy and winds moderate to strong at times from the east. The real outlier was how warm ambient air temperatures were with Center ridge (1880′) topping out at 47 degrees yesterday and low 50’s seen around Portage.
The storm showed up in earnest around 11pm last night with wet snow falling at Turnagain pass (1000′) and snow accumulations in the 2-5 € range this morning. Today expect a stormy day with the rain/ snow line to be around 1000′. Up to another .4 € of water (4-5 € of snow) is expected today with ridgetop temperatures in the high 20’s. Winds will be out of the east 20- 40mph then shifting southeast this evening.
Unsettled weather looks to be in our future through the weekend as another North Pacific low tracks south of Kodiak by Saturday.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||37||2||.2||57|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||38||0||0||12|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||38||2||.33||31|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||30||n/a||16||71|
|05/22/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Nick D'Alessio|
|05/12/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan, Sunburst, Magnum, Cornbiscuit||Heather Thamm|
|05/07/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan – Bear Tracks||CNFAIC Staff|
|05/05/23||Turnagain||Observation: Seattle Ridge||AS/ WW Forecaster|
|05/02/23||Turnagain||Observation: Cornbiscuit||Schauer/ Sturgess Forecaster|
|05/02/23||Turnagain||Observation: Seward Hwy Turnagain Pass||Joel Curtis|
|04/30/23||Turnagain||Observation: Magnum||Ayla, Kit Crosby, Barton|
|04/29/23||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||John Sykes|
|04/28/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Taylor Pass/Pastoral||Schauer/ Creighton Forecaster|
|04/28/23||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan||Andy Moderow|
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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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.