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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, April 21st, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wed, April 22nd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

There is MODERATE avalanche danger in the backcountry for a variety of avalanche problems. The most concerning are large wet snow avalanches below 2,500′ and large dry slab avalanches above 2,500′. The snowpack has just begun to freeze up and stabilize after a significant warm-up and avalanche cycle over the weekend. With much uncertainty in the mountains, today will warrant cautious route-finding and careful snowpack evaluation if you are headed into avalanche terrain.    

There will be no avalanche advisory tomorrow, Wednesday’s outlook is below.

AVALANCHE OUTLOOK for Wednesday, April 22nd:
On Wednesday we are expecting 1-3″ of new snow along with moderate to strong Easterly winds. At the upper elevations, fresh wind slab avalanches forming in the new snow, along with existing loose snow on the surface, should be expected. These could be as thick as 1′ and likely recognizable. Sluffs in the new snow should also be expected. Additionally, keep in mind the lingering instabilities with respect to large wet snow and deep slab avalanches mentioned above.

Special Announcements
  • We are currently issuing advisories 5 days a week until our final advisory on Thursday, April 30th.   Advisories will be posted at 7 am each day except Mondays and Wednesdays.
Tue, April 21st, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
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
  • Announcement

After an action-packed weekend of heavy rain, strong wind and large avalanches, yesterday was a relatively quiet day on Turnagain Pass. With the end of the weekend’s storms came a quick end to the resulting and impressive avalanche cycle. Check out photos of the aftermath on our observation page; including Tim Glassett’s photos from the AKDOT&PF.

A cold front moved through yesterday evening and has begun to freeze and lock-up the snowpack. The very wet snow, which extended to ~2,000′, will likely have a semi-supportable to supportable crust today. As one travels above 2,000′, where the snow was dense and damp, the surface crust should slowly disappear and give way to drier snow and improved riding conditions at the higher elevations. 

There is a high uncertainty as to the state of the snowpack following the weekend’s ‘melt-down’ and a shift to colder temperatures freezing it into place. A conservative mind-set will be good in you are headed into the mountains. That said, primary avalanche concerns will be associated with lingering wet snow and deep slab instabilities. Weather today is not expected to add to the avalanche danger as only 1-2″ of new snow is forecast along with light Westerly winds. However, sunlit slopes may see enough warmth to soften Southern aspects and trigger wet sluffs. Primary instabilities include:

In areas that still harbor wet snow, or just a shallow surface re-freeze over punchy saturated snow, large wet slab and wet loose avalanches are still possible. Additonally, sunshine today may increase this likelihood on Southerly slopes. Wet avalanches could be bigger than expected and entrain significant amounts of heavy debris on steep sustained slopes. Steering clear of steep, 40 degree and greater, slopes with soft and saturated snow will be wise.

At elevations above 2,500′ there has been 3-8′ of storm snow from the middle part of April that sits on a variety of old weak layers. Much of the past avalanche activity is suspected to have occurred within these old layers. Now that they are buried so deep in pack, human triggering is not likely, but still something that should be on your radar. Shallow snowpack zones, such as those South of the Pass are the most suspect.

Lingering wind slabs from the weekend’s storms may still be found at the upper elevations. These could be anywhere from 1-5+’ thick.. Again there is a high degree of uncertainty as to how the upper elevations have faired in this respect. Watching for wind textured snow and cracking in the snow around you will be ways of looking for shallow slabs. The deeper wind slabs are more difficult as they likely won’t display signs before releasing.

Photo below is of the very wet and saturated snow from yesterday – which is now freezing into place!

Tue, April 21st, 2015

A break in storms came yesterday with mild weather and visibility filtering in and out due to lingering  scud clouds. Temperatures were warm, upper 20’s F along the ridgetops and mid 30’s F at 1.000′. Ridgetop winds were light from the Northeast before switching to the West in the evening, bringing much cooler temperatures. Along with the wind shift was a short, 2 hour, burst of precipitation and 2″ of snow fell at the SNOTEL site at 1880′.  

Today, cooler temperatures will continue to move through with the Westerly flow direction we are under. There in enough instability to create intermittent snow showers across the region, with accumulations in the 1-3″ range; snow to sea level. Ridgetops winds will be light in the 10-15mph range from the West and temperatures in the teens on the ridges and upper 20’s F at 1,000′.

Wednesday, another round of strong wind with a few inches of snow is on tap, 1-3″. This is a colder storm and flurries should make it to sea level, or close. Ridgetop winds are expected to be in the 20-30mph range from the East and temperatures climbing slightly, to the 20’s F on the ridgelines.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 28   2   0.2   74  
Summit Lake (1400′) 24   3   0.3   16  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 30   1   0.2   48  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 21   NE   7   36  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25   n/a   9   25  
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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.