Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Mon, November 30th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Tue, December 1st, 2015 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

There is a MODERATE avalanche danger today in the upper elevations of the advisory area.   Human triggered avalanches may be possible in steep, wind-loaded terrain above 2500′.   Practice safe travel techniques and ease into terrain one at a time, looking for signs of instability before committing to steep slopes greater than 35 degrees.

Below 2500′ the danger is low where the snowpack has been seasoned with rain and warm temps over the last several days.

Special Announcements

Fireside Chats are back!  Join CNFAIC Forecaster Heather Thamm this Wednesday Dec. 2nd in Anchorage at the Blue and Gold Boardshop for our first Fireside chat as she discusses terrain and route selection.  More information on our calendar page HERE.

Outside of advisory area AVALANCHE CONDITIONS update:

Due to avalanche danger and on going search and rescue efforts the East Hatcher Pass Management Area is closed to public use until further notice. For current information visit  DNR Newsroom  and  hatcherpassavalanchecenter.org

The search for a missing skier in Hatcher pass continues today. Click  HERE  for latest media release from the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center.  Click  HERE  for the most recent news coverage in Alaska Dispatch News. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Dr. Liam Walsh.

Mon, November 30th, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

With an onslaught of warm, powerful storms since early last week we saw a peak in natural avalanche activity on Friday/ Saturday with rain up to 2500’ and 100+ mph winds through Turnagain pass.  Overall the snowpack will continue to gain strength and adjust today with slightly colder temps and a lack of active weather but areas of instabilities may exist.  Above 2500’ where the snow has stayed dry, steep leeward slopes may be harboring pockets of wind slab that could be susceptible to a human trigger.  Shooting cracks, whumphing or a hollow drum-like feel to the surface are clues that you’ve stepped onto a wind slab.  The snowpack is still quite shallow out there.  Getting knocked off your feet from even a small avalanche will translate to an unpleasant ride.

                              General snowpack structure in the mid-elevations, Turnagain pass.  Total height of snow here is about 28″.


Additional Concern
  • Announcement

Though we’ve seen a lack of avalanche activity since the peak of the storm post-Thanksgiving, keep in mind we have had 4+” of water over the last 5 days in the eastern Turnagain arm area.  This translates to more than 4’ of snow in some upper elevation areas, potentially overlaying weak snow from our cold snap earlier in November.  With a lack of information from periphery areas such as the Girdwood Valley, it’ll be prudent to approach any steep, upper elevation terrain with added caution today.

Mon, November 30th, 2015

Yesterday provided a reprieve from the rain with only light, intermittent showers across eastern Turnagain arm.   Temperatures hovered around 36F all day at 1,000′ while ridge tops cooled slightly to the mid-20’s.   Ridgetop winds were less than 20 mph out of the east.  

Today we can expect patchy fog and mostly overcast skies.  Temperatures appear to be dropping slightly to the low 30’s at 1,000′ and we can expect a few lingering showers to deposit 1-2 € of snow at and above ~1500′.   Winds will be light out of the East.  

Expect an overall decrease in temperatures (return toward normal) and more unsettled, active weather through the week as the next low pressure moves into our region.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 29   2    .2 22  
Summit Lake (1400′) 27   1    .1 10  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  32 1 .06  16

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  23 ENE   11    32
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  26  N/A N/A    N/A
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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.