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Sat, April 2nd, 2016 - 7:00AM
Sun, April 3rd, 2016 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Due to continued glide avalanche activity there remains a MODERATE avalanche danger at the mid-elevations. Destructive glide avalanches continue to occur sporadically in the forecast region. Glide avalanches are not triggered by people but release spontaneously. Otherwise, the snowpack is generally stable and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. If the surface crusts warm enough to melt today, wet loose slides will be possible on steep slopes.  

Summer use trails with avalanche terrain above should be avoided due to the threat of natural glide or wet avalanche activity from above. Byron trail in Portage Valley is not recommended and the Turnagain Arm Trail between Bird and Girdwood remains  CLOSED for the winter.

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

Special Announcements

CNFAIC is going to Arctic Man for the fifth year in a row! We are excited be there all week and to offer two FREE companion rescue workshops. Click  HERE  for more information. We hope to see you there! Stop by the blue trailer and practice in the beacon park!  Don’t forget your beacon, shovel and probe!

Sat, April 2nd, 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

The primary concern for today will center around glide avalanches, for the countless time this season… These avalanches show no signs of abating and each day we see at least one new glide crack that has released. They are occurring on all aspects and predominantly at elevations ~3,000′ and below. To make matters a bit more concerning, there have been a couple instances where a glide avalanche occurred where no crack was present the day before. This is a tough situation to manage considering the snowpack as a whole is mostly stable.

Continuing to avoid being under cracks is our best bet, and will be till the snow melts out and/or sluffs off the mountains for the summer.

Snowmachiners: The Seattle Ridge up-track is threatened by a large glide crack and a few smaller ones that have yet to release. 

Glide cracks and glide avalanches litter Seattle Ridge:

More of the same on Tincan Ridge:

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

As we work our way through this springtime regime and transition from a winter snowpack to a summer one, it’s time to think about how the surface is warming/softening, or not warming/softening. This is not only for sussing out good ski/riding conditions but for wet avalanche hazards as well. Yesterday we saw unsupportable and wet snow below 2,500′ where it was easy to initiate wet sluffs in steep terrain. Has this wet snow frozen overnight? Most likely there has been a shallow re-freeze limiting any wet avalanche hazard. However, temperatures climbing today and the possibility of sunshine may soften surface crusts again, allowing for wet avalanche activity to be possible.

Wet snow rule of thumb: If the snow is wet and mushy enough for your boot to sink in up to your ankle, or more, wet sluffs are possible and it’s time to find a more supportable slope. Also, wet sluffs can be quite dangerous as the debris is heavy, can generate a lot of momentum and be extremely difficult to escape.

Wet and ‘punchy’ snow exists at the lower elevations:


*With the recent winds could we have wind slabs?  Possibly in the high elevations. These would likely be shallow and scattered along peaks above 3,500′. There is very little snow available for transport currently.

Winds blow a trace of snow around at the higher elevations where the snowpack is capped by a thin surface crust:

Additional Concern
  • Cornice
Cornice Fall is the release of an overhanging mass of snow that forms as the wind moves snow over a sharp terrain feature, such as a ridge, and deposits snow on the downwind (leeward) side. Cornices range in size from small wind drifts of soft snow to large overhangs of hard snow that are 30 feet (10 meters) or taller. They can break off the terrain suddenly and pull back onto the ridge top and catch people by surprise even on the flat ground above the slope. Even small cornices can have enough mass to be destructive and deadly. Cornice Fall can entrain loose surface snow or trigger slab avalanches.
More info at Avalanche.org

We have yet to start seeing cornices begin to fall in earnest, yet it is still wise to give these very large snow features a wide berth along ridgelines and limit your time below them. Cornices typically calve off around now as we move into a springtime snowpack.

Sat, April 2nd, 2016

Weather conditions yesterday consisted of partly sunny skies, a cool Easterly breeze and warm temperatures out of the wind. Ridgetop winds during the past 24-hours have been blowing steady in the 15-30mph range with gusts over 50mph from a generally East direction. Ridgetop temperatures have been cooling slightly, from ~30F to the mid 20’sF.

For today we are expecting partly cloudy skies with a chance for a trace of snow above 1,500′ and chance for rain below. It will be one of those inbetween storm days with sunny spots here and cloudy spots there. Ridgetop winds are expected to lessen to the 10-15mph range from the East and temperatures should climb a bit, to the upper 20’s to 30F at the ridgetops.

Sunday is likely to be much the same as today. We will still be inbetween major storm systems with a chance for partly sunny to mostly sunny skies.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 37   rain   0.1   120  
Summit Lake (1400′) 38   0    0 37  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 36   rain   0.1   106  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 27   NE   21   52  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 30   SE   23    47
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/19/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Lynx creek
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/17/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain (below the uptrack)
02/15/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Backdoor, Center Ridge
02/12/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
02/11/24 Turnagain Observation: Cornbiscuit
02/10/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
02/04/24 Turnagain Observation: Eddie’s
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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.