Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sat, January 9th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Sun, January 10th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

As rain, wind and snow impact the Turnagain Pass and surrounding areas today we will have a CONSIDERABLE  avalanche danger at all elevations above 1,000′. Dry snow avalanches in the Alpine (above 2,500′) and wet snow avalanches (below 2,500′) may occur naturally today. Human triggered avalanches will be likely on slopes 35 and steeper. In the Alpine, avalanches are expected to be dry wind slabs between 8-16″ thick, while in the wet snow below, wet loose avalanches are expected. Below 1,000 there is a MODERATE danger where debris from a slide releasing above may be channeled.  

Sticking to low angle slopes and playing in the flats are good ways to avoid all avalanche hazard. If you do venture onto the steeper terrain, careful snowpack assessment, conservative decision-making and safe travel practices will be key.

For conditions in the Summit Lake area on the Kenai please see the Weekly Summary which comes out on Saturday mornings!  

Special Announcements

Today we will be hosting a  FREE  Avalanche Rescue Workshop  from 11:00am to 12:30pm at the motorized lot on Turnagain Pass. YES, it will be damp but we will power through for those willing to brave the wet conditions! We will practice beacon searches, learn strategic shoveling techniques and other rescue necessities. This workshop is open to everyone: motorized and non-motorized, novices and experts. Don’t forget your rain gear!

Filing for the PFD this week? Remember, The Friends of the CNFAIC is part of  PICK.CLICK.GIVE. Your donations are greatly appreciated and an integral part to making the CNFAIC possible and sustainable.  

Sat, January 9th, 2016
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

After a brief break in storms last week gave backcountry travelers an opportunity to get out into the mountains, we are back at it today with a warm, wet and windy storm rolling through for the weekend. Overnight there has been .5 to 1″ of rain below 2,000′ and roughly 5-8″ of wet snow above this. Today we are expecting another .5″ of precipitation; this equates to rain below 1,500′ and 3-5″ of wet snow above. 

In the Alpine, above 2,500′, where dry snow is falling avalanche issues are expected to be confined to what we call ‘storm snow instabilities’. This means avalanches will be composed of the new storm snow and are not expected to break into layers deeper in the pack. The most likely avalanches will be on wind loaded slopes where fresh wind slabs 8-16″ have formed. These are always the most ‘touchy’ during formation or just after. Skies are not likely to clear enough today, but if they do and you find yourself in the dry snow, watch for how the winds have distributed the snow during the storm. Look for smooth rounded surfaces, hollow feeling snow and stiff snow over soft snow, these are signs of wind loading and something to steer clear of on steep slopes today.

*Cornice falls will again be a concern today with the warm temperatures. These can break at anytime on their own as well as with the weight of a person. They can trigger an avalanche below and be very dangerous. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wet Loose
    Wet Loose
Wet Loose
Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.
More info at Avalanche.org

Wet loose avalanches are expected below 2,500′ where wet snow is falling and/or rain. These wet ‘sluffs’ have the ability to entrain large amounts of wet snow and run further than expected in some cases. However, today these should only entrain the top 6-8″ of snow cover and be more moderate in size. Areas such as Seattle Ridge, above the motorized lot, may see some wet loose avalanches running today.

Photo below is of the Seattle Ridge snowmachine ‘uptrack’. Many steep slopes and gullies sit along this ridge to either side of the uptrack as well as above it. Sticking to the mellow terrain and avoiding time under these slopes and gullies will be key today.

Additional Concern
  • Glide Avalanches
    Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches are the release of the entire snow cover as a result of gliding over the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow. They typically occur in very specific paths, where the slope is steep enough and the ground surface is relatively smooth. They are often proceeded by full depth cracks (glide cracks), though the time between the appearance of a crack and an avalanche can vary between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, are nearly impossible to forecast, and thus pose a hazard that is extremely difficult to manage.
More info at Avalanche.org

Several glide cracks are opening and some have released in the region. As with cornices, these are best dealt with through avoidance and limiting any exposure underneath them.

Sat, January 9th, 2016

Partly cloudy skies and light rain showers (below 1500′) and snow showers (above 1500′) covered the area yesterday. Ridgetop winds were generally Easterly around 20mph with gusts in the 40’s. Temperatures were warm…in the upper 30’s at l000′ and near 32 at 2000′.  

Today, another warm pacific system is moving through. Overnight, between .5 and 1″ of rain has fallen from around 2000′ and below while 5-8″ of wet snow has fallen above. The Easterly winds have picked up to the 40’s mph at Sunburst ridgetop weather station with gusts in the 60’s. Through the day we are expecting to see another .5″ of rain below ~1500′ and 3-5″ of wet snow above. Ridgetop winds should remain strong, between 30-40mph from the East with stronger gusts.

On Sunday ridgetop winds are expected to remain strong and precipitation taper off slightly as we will still be in the midst of very warm moist air streaming in from the Gulf.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 34   0 (rain)   1.1   78  
Summit Lake (1400′) 35   0   0   26  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 34   0 (rain)   0.72   59  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  28 ENE   31   67  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  30 N/A     N/A     N/A  
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/25/24 Turnagain Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
02/24/24 Turnagain Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
02/22/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Lynx Creek
02/22/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
02/20/24 Turnagain Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
02/19/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Lynx creek
Riding Areas

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.