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Thu, March 17th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Fri, March 18th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE in the mid elevation band between 1000′-3000′ where glide cracks continue to release naturally and without warning. In the Alpine, a generally LOW avalanche danger exists, but due to the glide problem below terrain choices remain limited. Chose your routes wisely to avoid glide cracks, and be on the lookout for changing conditions that could raise the danger in the alpine.  

*If you are headed to the Summit Lake area don’t forget to check  Summit Lake Summary, and click HERE  for a recent observation of glide activity in that area.

Special Announcements

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the staff at CNFAIC!  

Remember The Friends of the CNFAIC is part of  PICK.CLICK.GIVE. Your donations are greatly appreciated and integral to making the CNFAIC possible and sustainable.    Be part of the ‘Movement’! Thank you for your support!

Making plans for Arctic Man 2016? Don’t forget your beacon, shovel and probe! CNFAIC will be there all week and offering two FREE companion rescue workshops. Click  HERE  for more info. We hope to see you there!

Thu, March 17th, 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

Glide cracks continue to avalanche daily and without warning throughout our region. Yesterday we spoke with two snowboarders who witnessed a glide release on the SW face of Tincan while they were on the Sunburst ridge. New glides avalanche debris was seen on the SE side of Seattle Ridge, S face of Max’s, and several new ones in the Twentymile drainage.

Glide cracks cover all aspects within the mid elevation band (between 1000-3000’) and remain a significant threat to popular terrain. As long as glide cracks continue to open up, move and release, we will stress the importance of avoiding them, which is THE ONLY WAY TO MANAGE THIS AVALANCHE PROBLEM. Remember these are totally unpredictable, release naturally and could be deadly if you were to get caught-up in that amount of snow. It is the entire winter snowpack releasing at the ground. 

A view of the SW aspect of Tincan where recent glide avalanches were observed yesterday from Sunburst. Click HERE to see more pictures of glide activity from the past week.


  Penguin Ridge experienced a very active cycle this week. Keep in mind the debris can run into snow free areas and threaten some summer trails, especially around Girdwood Valley and Portage.




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

Yesterday 3” of new snow was observed above 2000’ and only a trace is expected today. Easterly ridgetop winds ranged from 10-20mph and a similar pattern is expected today. Should winds trend towards the later or exceed 20mph, there is enough snow available for transport the hazard could rise. Pay attention for blowing snow along ridgetops and how well this new snow is bonding the surfaces below. Be aware of how the sun is heating up the new snow on solar aspects and if you see any obvious signs of instability like shooting cracks or recent avalanches be prepared to change your plans. Remember LOW danger doesn’t mean NO danger, one of these avalanche problems is still possible in very steep terrain.

Wind slabs: Yesterday there were several short periods of sustained 10-20mph winds and we did find one very small pocket that produced a shallow shooting crack along the Sunburst Ridge. Be on the lookout for pillows of newly drifted snow and active wind loading – it is possible that steep terrain could harbor tender isolated wind slabs.

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 if we get windows of sunshine.  The biggest threat with both of these is the potential to get knocked off your feet in steep, committing terrain. 

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. 



Thu, March 17th, 2016

Yesterday skies were mostly sunny and mid elevation temperatures reached the low 40’s F.   Ridgetop winds were light from the SW with a short period of moderate winds that switched to an Easterly direction mid-day. Overnight temps were in the 20’s F and no new precipitation was recorded.

Today isolated snow showers are only expected to bring a trace of new snow. Skies will be cloudy, but patches of blue sky are possible. Easterly ridgetop winds could range from 10-20mph today and temperatures may increase into the mid 30’s F mid-day.

Tomorrow a similar pattern is anticipated with the next possibility for snow fall Friday night into Saturday.    

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 31   0   0   134  
Summit Lake (1400′) 30   0   0   43  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 31   trace   0.02   108  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 24   SW – E   9   38  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25   S – E   7   17  
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
12/04/23 Turnagain Observation: Lynx Creek
12/04/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst, 2400′ – 3100′ NW ridge common uptrack.
12/03/23 Turnagain Observation: Center Ridge
12/03/23 Turnagain Observation: Magnum
12/03/23 Turnagain Observation: West ridge of Tincan Peak and Peak 4400
12/03/23 Turnagain Observation: Lipps
12/02/23 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
12/02/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan South Side
12/02/23 Turnagain Observation: Eddies up track
12/01/23 Avalanche: Sunburst
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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.