Sunshine and mostly stable snowpack conditions have allowed many people to test the slopes in the Turngagain pass area. However, if venturing out today it is important to remember there were two large and dangerous avalanches triggered on Friday HERE and HERE. The likelihood for someone to find and trigger a large slab is decreasing as the snowpack adjusts but the poor snowpack structure remains and the consequences are scary. It still important to be on guard and utilize safe travel protocol.
We visited the site of the Lynx Creek avalanche (one of the avalanches that occured on Friday, 2.3.17) yesterday and were able to find reactive snow in our flank profile. We will put together a more detailed report this week. This avalanche was large, with crown close to 1000′ feet wide, running over 1500′ and debris depths over 10′ deep in many places. The crown depth varied from 1′-4′ thick. In some places it stepped down from a mid-pack weak layer of facets to a lower layer of facets over a crust. This was triggered in a thin spot, which is something we have been talking about with this variable and spooky deep persistent slab set-up. One is likely to have no signs of instability and there could be many tracks on a slope before an avalanche occurs. The reactive snow in snowpack tests yesterday is an indication that propagation potential still exists.
This deep slab problem is tricky and the important thing is to know you may be on a slope with weak snow underneath a stiff slab 2-4+’ thick that just needs a trigger in the right spot. Again, likely trigger spots are where the slab is thin, possibly next to rocks. Likely triggers are large: snowmachines, groups of people or cornice falls. The poor snowpack structure will also be important to remember if and when we get another significant loading event.
Crown in Lynx Creek avalanche (occured 2.3.17). Note where it stepped down. 2.7.17
Extended column test in flank profile adjacent to Lynx Creek avalanche. Full propagation at 11 taps on a layer of small facets sandwiched between two harder layers. In parts of this avalanche it stepped down below this to a lower layer of facets over a deteriorating melt-freeze crust.
Cornices: This weekend cornice cracks were reported along the back bowls of Seattle Ridge making some of these cornices extra sketchy. A few chunks have been triggered this week. Remember these unpredictable hazards can break farther back onto a ridge than expected and have the potential to trigger an avalanche on the slope below. Give cornices extra space and avoid being under them.
Wind Slabs: An observer yesterday reported a period of light winds drifting snow onto leeward aspects. New shallow wind slabs may be tender, or it may still be possible to find an old stubborn wind slab on leeward slopes. Look out for pillowed or drifted snow and avoid areas with stiff snow over soft snow.
Loose snow: With 4-8″ of loose snow on the surface over a dense base, watch your sluffs and watch how the sun is affecting the snow around you.
Over the last few days the sun has been affecting the snow on Solar aspects (East – Southeast – South.) Small sun induced rollerballs and a few point releases have been observed as well as a sun crust on some Southern aspects. Today is forecasted to be cooler and cloud up. Expect to find the sun crusts on solar aspects.
Cornice avoidance 2.7.17. Photo: Billy Finley
Wind moving snow in Lynx Creek, 2.7.17.
Sun induced roller balls and a glide crack in Lynx Creek, 2.7.17
Yesterday was clear and sunny with valley fog. Temperatures were in the low 20Fs- high teens at ridgetops and single digits-low teens in the valley bottoms. Westerly winds were mostly light with a few gusts throughout the day. Overnight temperatures were in the teens and single digits. Winds bumped up slightly overnight.
Today will start out mostly sunny with clouds developing throughout the day and a chance for flurries in the afternoon. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a chance of snow. Tomorrow there is also a chance for snow. At this point this first system doesn’t look to be much of a snow producer. Colder air is forecasted to move over the area on Friday morning and there is a chance that will be combined with some snowfall but likelihood and amounts are not certain. The quote this morning from the National Weather Service is “One can say with high confidence that several areas of low pressures will move into the Gulf of Alaska this weekend through the middle of next week, but confidence is low in the exact track of them.”
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||23||0||0||52|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||15||0||0||23|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||22||0||0||46|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||20||SW-NW||5||16|
|01/19/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: south facing aspect on 3800ft bump just northeast of 4940||Anonymous|
|01/19/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Cornbiscuit & Magnum||Allen Dahl|
|01/19/20||Turnagain||Observation: Eddie’s||Kakiko Ramos-Leon|
|01/18/20||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||Ryan Van Luit Forecaster|
|01/18/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst||Eric Roberts|
|01/18/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: North end Tincan trees||Heather Johnson|
|01/17/20||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Allen Dahl|
|01/16/20||Turnagain||Observation: Lynx Creek||Wagner / Van Luit Forecaster|
|01/13/20||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Ryan Van Luit Forecaster|
|01/12/20||Turnagain||Observation: Magnum West face||Levi Oyster|
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.