Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Thu, December 3rd, 2015 - 7:00AM
Fri, December 4th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The overall avalanche stability in Turnagain Pass continues to trend towards LOW danger, however with the variability in snowpack depth and structure, a MODERATE  avalanche danger still exists in the Alpine. Human triggered avalanches may be possible in steep terrain above 2500′. Practice safe travel techniques, ease into terrain one at a time and look for signs of instability before committing to slopes greater than 35 degrees.

Below 2500′ the danger is  LOW  where the snowpack has frozen after being saturated last week.

Special Announcements

Fireside Chats are back!  We want to thank  Blue and Gold Boardshop  for hosting our first Fireside chat of the season and the 65+ riders and skiers that showed up last night to learn about avalanche terrain! Our next Fireside chat will be Thursday, December 10th at Alaska Avalanche School. The topic will be avalanche rescue. We hope to see you there! All Fireside chats are FREE! For more information check out our calendar page  HERE.

For good reminder that small slopes can have big consequences click HERE for yesterday’s article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about a recent close call in the Summit Lake area.  

Outside of advisory area AVALANCHE CONDITIONS update:

The East Hatcher Pass Management Area reopened the road to Hatcher Pass last night. Click HERE for the Alaska Dispatch News article. Visit  hatcherpassavalanchecenter.org  for current information on Hatcher Pass conditions and click  HERE  to read the most current article on the search efforts for the missing skier.  

Thu, December 3rd, 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
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

The aftermath of the avalanche cycle November 27th/28th is evident in the terrain on Turnagain pass. There were a number of large slides in the Alpine but much of the steep terrain did not avalanche during this last cycle. It has been almost a week since our significant loading event and there have been no recent signs of instability reported. Recent snow has provided great riding conditions and folks have been enjoying the mostly stable return to winter in the advisory area.

We continue to be suspect of steep, primarily northerly terrain that still may harbor facets that formed during the early November cold snap. Digging and probing yesterday highlighted that variability of snowpack depth and structure. Areas that are shallow and that have stiff snow over weak facets (sugar snow) are the main concern. This poor structure still has the potential to present as a Persistent Slab avalanche. This could be especially hazardous in steep, high consequence terrain where even a small slide could take you for a dangerous ride. Probing and trying to investigate the depth and layering in the terrain you are choosing to ride are recommended before committing to big lines. 

We have limited information on the snowpack characteristics in the Girdwood valley and the Summit area. Both zones also have variability and warrant caution when venturing into avalanche terrain.

Remember to always practice safe travel rituals on steep slopes, namely, only expose one person at a time, watch your partners carefully, and regroup in safe zones.

Photo: D3 avalanche in Superbowl/Corner Pocket reported on November 29th. We believe this slide occurred during the November 27th/28th cycle. The remnants of the crown are highlighted in red. 

Thu, December 3rd, 2015

We had mostly clear skies yesterday, light winds and temperatures the mid-20Fs as a ridge moved over the region. Today will be partly to mostly cloudy with snow showers developing as the next low effects the advisory area. Snow is expected to be light with the possibility of a brief heavier shot of snow overnight. Snow amounts forecasted are for 2-4″ today and 1-3″ tonight. Winds will be light and Easterly and temperatures will be in the 20Fs to mid-30Fs.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 26   0   0   25  
Summit Lake (1400′) 21    0  0  21
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  30  0  0  18

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  23 NE   10    21
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  24 NA   NA   NA  
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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.