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Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Mon, January 18th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Expires
Tue, January 19th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
The Bottom Line

There is a MODERATE avalanche danger today for both wind slab avalanches and glide avalanches. Lingering wind slabs (around 6-12″ thick) will be possible for a person to trigger on steep slopes at the upper elevations. Additionally, an increase in wind this afternoon may begin forming fresh winds slabs in the Alpine. At the mid-elevations (1,000′-2,500′) glide cracks continue to release. Limiting, or avoiding, any time under these cracks is recommended.  

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Mon, January 18th, 2016
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
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

Saturday night brought a brief ‘refresh’ of snow to most areas in Turnagain Pass and Girdwood Valley. Around 3″ of wet snow fell at 1,000′ (which is now capped by a crust) and 6″ of low density snow at the higher elevations above treeline. Moderate to strong Easterly winds along the ridgelines accompanied the snowfall. It was no surprise to see shallow wind slabs along the Tincan Ridge yesterday. Although these slabs were present, they were quite stubborn and hard to initiate on test slopes. The wind slabs sit on old snow (broken precipitation particles) with buried surface hoar intermixed, essentially Saturday’s surface snow.

For today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there are two types of wind slabs to watch for: Old and New. 

Old wind slabs: These older lingering wind slabs are in the 6″ to a foot deep range. And, they can be tricky; meaning they may not release till you are well on the slope. They also may be obscured by a skiff of fresh snow. Quick hand pits and jumping on test slopes are good ways to suss these out.

New wind slabs: We are expecting an increase in East winds later in the day. Keep an eye out for active wind loading. Any fresh wind slab should be touchy and release easily (as opposed to the older, stubborn wind slab). These also can form on top of one another.

Photo below is Graham Predeger testing a fresh wind slab/cornice feature from the top of Seattle Ridge yesterday (credit: Sully). These small terrain features are good ways to test the snow without committing to steep avalanche terrain.


This photo below is from a test slope near Hippy Bowl on Tincan Ridge yesterday. What it shows are both a new wind slab (3-4″ thick) stepping down to an older wind slab (6″ thick). I know, it’s tough to see, but hopefully you get the idea… 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

After several days of glide cracks releasing on Turnagain Pass – some of which were ‘front and center’ on Seattle Ridge – there was only one new glide avalanche seen yesterday. This was a smaller glide on the South face of Wolverine Ridge around 1,500′ in elevation.

Again, we preach avoidance for this avalanche problem. Avoiding, or doing your best to limit your exposure time, under these glide cracks is advised. There are still many large cracks looming – most notably on the East face of Seattle Ridge and on the South and West faces of Tincan ridge. These are the two areas most easily accessed by backcontry travelers.

Below is Heather’s photo from Seattle Ridge on Saturday. You can clearly see the two glide avalanches from over the weekend as well as the looming brown crack on the next gully over to the right. With yesterday’s 3-6″ of new snow, many of these cracks are ‘dusted over’ and much harder to see now. 

Weather
Mon, January 18th, 2016

Yesterday’s weather consisted of mostly overcast skies, gusty Easterly ridgetop winds and warm temperatures (mid 30’s at 1,000′, upper 20’s at 3,000′). Winds quieted down in the afternoon and have remained light from a generally East direction overnight. Warm air has been streaming in at the upper elevations overnight – Sunburst reported 32F  at midnight, this station sits at 3,812′.

Today, we can expect mostly overcast skies again with a chance for sunny breaks in the clouds. Later in the afternoon and this evening, the Easterly winds should pick up along with light snowfall (rain below 1,000′). Ridgetop winds are forecast to be ~15mph from the East. Temperatures should cool to the mid-upper 20’s F at the upper elevations and remain around 30F at 1,000′.

Overnight tonight and into tomorrow, an embedded low-pressure in Northern Gulf will bring a quick shot of snow above ~1,000′-1,500′ with light rain below – accumulations look to be in the 3-6″ range. Winds are expected to be 20-30mph from the East on the ridgelines and strong gap winds along Turnagain Arm.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 33   1   0.1   83  
Summit Lake (1400′) 32 1   0.1   27  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 33   0   0.1   63  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 29   ENE   11   38  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 30   N/A   N/A   N/A  
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Riding Areas
Updated Mon, October 26th, 2020

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: mailroom_r10_chugach@fs.fed.us

Area Status Weather & Riding Conditions
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Closed
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Skookum Drainage
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Turnagain Pass
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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.