Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sat, March 19th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Sun, March 20th, 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. Today the avalanche danger in the Alpine will increase from LOW to MODERATE by late morning as new snow and winds arrive in our region.  Chose your routes wisely to avoid glide cracks, and be on the lookout for freshly forming wind slabs, loose snow, and storm slabs as weather intensifies in the afternoon.

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

Special Announcements

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!

Sat, March 19th, 2016
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
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
  • 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

Today’s avalanche concerns will be based on how today’s changing weather affects our region. Should 4-8” of new snow and Moderate Easterly winds arrive as forecasted, expect surface instabilities (wind slabs, loose snow, and storm slabs) to increase in size throughout the day. Pay attention for rapid loading and blowing snow along ridgetops and how well this new snow is bonding with the surfaces below. If you see any obvious signs of instability like shooting cracks or recent avalanches be prepared to alter your plans. The following avalanche problems will be directly proportional to the amount of snow and wind we receive today.

Wind slabs – There is currently a lot of low-density snow available for transport on shaded (NE to NW) aspects. Expect wind slabs to grow in size by mid to late afternoon as winds starts to build from the East. Be on the lookout for blowing snow, shooting cracks and pillow shaped pockets on leeward aspects.

Loose snow: Dry loose avalanches will be possible in steeper terrain and will grow in size throughout the morning. If for some reason the sun makes an appearance today, slopes with a southerly tilt, may experience natural wet loose avalanches.  

Storm slabs: Storm slabs will likely be more of an issue later today in places protected from the wind. Again this will be directly proportional to the amount of snow that falls and will be an added reason to avoid steep terrain later in the day.

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

This week has been one of our most active glide avalanche cycles of the winter with dozens of dirty streaks observed in Girdwood, Turnagain Pass and Summit Lake. Yesterday a new glide avalanche was seen on the East side Seattle Ridge and another that occured late afternoon on a South aspect of Raggedtop in Girdwood. 

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 one. It is the entire winter snowpack releasing at the ground. 

There is a lot of terrain where glide cracks can be challenging to see from the groud level. Here’s an arial view taken of the SW face of Cornbiscuit on Wed, 3/16. Photo by Jared Gross. 




Penguin Ridge has been very active this week. This is a good reminder that there are summer trails that are threatened by avalanche terrain from above. This trail will remain closed through the winter. 




Sat, March 19th, 2016

Yesterday skies were mostly cloudy and winds were calm. Daytime temperatures reached the mid 30’s F and overnight temperatures dipped into the low 20’s F. A trace of new snow fell overnight at Turnagain Pass.

Today a low-pressure system is moving into our region and 4-8 € of new snow is expected today. Light Northerly winds will become East and will increase to Moderate by the afternoon. Temperatures will gradually warm throughout the day, with highs expected in the mid 30F’s. Rain is possible at lower elevations by later afternoon.

Snow showers are expected throughout the weekend and temperatures will steadily increase causing rain at lower elevations tonight into tomorrow. An additional 8-12 € snow is forecasted for the upper elevations tonight through tomorrow morning. Winds are expected to remain Moderate from the East.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 26   2   0.1   134  
Summit Lake (1400′) 28   2   0.1   45  
Alyeska Mid (1700′)  25 2   n/a   109  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 22   NE   3   6  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 22   NE   2   5  
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Eddie’s, Sunburst, Seattle, Cornbiscuit, Pete’s South
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass non-motorized side
05/12/24 Turnagain Observation: Warm up Bowl
05/07/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass Wet Slabs
04/29/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Turnagain aerial obs
04/27/24 Turnagain Observation: Johnson Pass
04/23/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Sunny Side
04/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Bertha Creek
04/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Spokane Creek
04/16/24 Turnagain Observation: Cornbiscuit
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.