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Tue, March 15th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Wed, March 16th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Heightened avalanche conditions exist below about 3,000′ where the avalanche danger is MODERATE.   Glide cracks have been active this week, producing large and destructive avalanches in mid-elevation terrain.   In areas not effected by glide cracks (above ~3,000′) there is a generally LOW avalanche danger.   In certain areas, it’ll take some methodical route finding to safely navigate the maze of mid-elevation glide cracks in order to gain access to the alpine.  

*If you are headed to the Summit Lake area don’t forget to check  Summit Lake Summary here.

Special Announcements

A special thank you to everyone who has submitted snowpack, weather and avalanche observations this season!  The more info we receive from the field, directly translates to a more accurate and ultimately better avalanche advisory we can produce.  So please, keep those observations and photos coming!

Tue, March 15th, 2016
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
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
  • 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

It’s becoming difficult to keep track of new glide avalanches versus the old.  Observers yesterday noticed at least six cracks (maybe more) that have avalanched in the previous 24 hours including one witnessed by a snowboarder from the top of Tincan common yesterday.  Glide cracks continue to threaten a lot of prime ski and snowmachine terrain in the mid-elevations (1,000-3,000’).  Keep in mind the debris from these can run into snow free areas and threaten some summer trails. 

As long as glide cracks continue to open up, move and release, we will stress the importance of avoidance, which is THE ONLY WAY TO MANAGE THIS AVALANCHE PROBLEM.


A complex of glide cracks was first heard, then seen moving and buckling on the SW face of Eddies yesterday.  photo: Ryan Lewthwaite

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Big crowds (for Alaska anyway!) have been flocking to the Turnagain pass area as spring break for many, has aligned nicely with a good weather window.  This makes it all the more urgent to practice safe travel protocol and avoid multiple skiers or riders in avalanche terrain simultaneously.  Pay attention to your surroundings and adjacent parties.  This holds especially true for snowmachiners where a rider can move over large distances in a very short time.  Beyond the human risks, there are some other avalanche hazards to keep on the radar today.

Cornice fall: Very large cornice features loom over many ridgeline and have a tendency to break further back than expected. Give them lots of space, and limit exposure time under them. 

Loose snow: Sluffs are fast moving and will be proportional to the slope you are on today.  Big terrain will yield big sluffs, particularly on cooler, drier northerly aspects.  On slopes with a southern tilt, wet loose avalanches could be initiated later in the day.  The biggest threat with both of these is the potential to get knocked off your feet in steep, committing terrain. 

Windslabs – On shaded aspects in very steep terrain it is still possible to find an old isolated wind slab. We saw several of these in the 8-12” range on Saturday and Sunday relegated to very steep (45 degrees or greater), unsupported terrain.

Tue, March 15th, 2016

Mostly clear skies yesterday dominated the region for the 3rd day in a row with no new precipitation.   Temperatures peaked in the upper 30’s at 1,000′.   Winds were light to non-existent on the ridgetops before bumping up slightly overnight from the SE.  

Today we can expect some clouds to move in with a chance for a few flurries this morning at 1,000′ but don’t expect much for accumulation.  Temperatures should reach into the mid-30’s and winds will be light from the east in the 5-15 mph range on ridgetops.

A few more clouds may filter in to our area throughout the week but any precipitation appears to be on the lighter side.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 30   0   0   136  
Summit Lake (1400′)  28 0   0   42  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  31  0 0    108

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  26  SE 7    18
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  24  SE  3  10
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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.