It is now been over 10 days since the November 16th surface hoar layer was buried and it remains reactive and our primary layer of concern. Yesterday skiers reported triggering small slides in Main Bowl (Seattle Ridge) on the buried surface hoar layer in steeper terrain (40 degrees). One skied off of the slab and the other was carried but stayed on top. It is important to remember that this widespread layer of buried surface hoar is sitting below 1-2 feet of snow and that observers keep finding this layer on all aspects and elevations throughout Turnagain Pass. Stability tests also continue to show that is slab/weak layer combination has the potential to avalanche. Up until a few days ago human triggered (including remote triggered) avalanches were happening daily with a couple dozen avalanches reported over a 7-day period. These avalanches have been small to medium in size; just large enough to bury a person or seriously injure you in a ride. Larger and/or steeper, more wind-loaded slopes that haven’t been ridden still have the potential to avalanche and could fracture once onto the slope. Be aware of the consequences below you and keep an eye out for recent wind loading, shooting cracks and whumphing sounds (RED FLAGS). Practice safe travel techniques like regrouping in safe zones and only expose one person at a time in avalanche terrain. This can be challenging to practice in crowded areas, thus be extra aware of other groups who may be traveling above or below you. Don’t forget buried surface hoar is a persistent weak layer and human triggered avalanche are still possible. This layer has not gone away and should be a major factor in slope choice today.
Skier triggered slides in Main Bowl, Photo: Eric Dahl
Shovel Tilt Test showing the slab over the buried surface hoar from pit near Hippy Bowl.
The snow that fell Saturday night was light and fluffy and will easily be transported with moderate winds. Early this morning there was a few hours where the winds picked up on Seattle Ridge gusting to 30 mph. The Sunburst weather station is down so it’s hard to determine if this was the same across the Pass. There was some increase in wind speeds at road level as well. It will be important to watch for signs of recent wind loading and if the snow feels stiffer underfoot. Look for shooting cracks. Triggering a small wind slab is possible in steep leeward terrain near ridgetops. This wind loading may add stress onto the buried surface hoar layer. Pay attention to changing conditions and choose terrain carefully.
Several glide avalanches have released this week including one observed Saturday morning on the West face of Pyramid. Several glide cracks have been noted in popular terrain like Tincan’s Common bowl and the SW face of Sunburst. If you see glide cracks give these a wide berth, minimize time spent underneath, and remember these are totally unpredictable. They are not triggered by humans and are the entire snowpack releasing. In places like Tincan Common this could be over 4′ of snow.
Yesterday was partly cloudy with light winds and temperatures in the high teens/low 20Fs. Overnight temps dropped a little into the mid teens(F). The winds were northerly and there was a minor spike in winds speeds early this morning gusting up to 30mph.
Today will be mostly sunny and cold with temperatures in the teens(F). NW winds should be light to moderate. Overnight there is a slight chance for snow and skies will be mostly cloudy. Temperatures stay cold and winds may increase depending on the track of the low in the Northeastern Pacific.
Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy and cold with light to moderate NW winds. There will be a window of clearing on Wedesday again and then the likelihood of snow increases into the weekend but the timing and amounts are still TBD.
***Sunburst Weather Station has not been recording weather data since Nov. 25th. We are currently assessing and hope to get it repaired soon.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||20||0||0||20|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||22||0||0||3|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||22||0||0||5|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||16||N||9||31|
|01/23/21||Turnagain||Observation: Seattle Ridge||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/23/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||Matti Silta|
|01/22/21||Turnagain||Observation: JOHNSON PASS||Anonymous|
|01/20/21||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Johnston-Bloom / Roberts Forecaster|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Cornbiscuit||Schauer/ Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst and Tincan||CNFAIC Staff|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||CNFAIC Staff|
|01/19/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan 2900′ SW aspect below Hippy Bowl.||Kris Marshall|
|01/18/21||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass Road Obs.||A Schauer Forecaster|
|01/16/21||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan Trees||A Schauer Forecaster|
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: email@example.com
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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.