Normally, an article warning Alaska drivers of winter weather road condtions would be business as usual, but for those of us looking to recreate at or around Turnagain Pass, an area that has seen cold and dry conditions for November, it means it is FINALLY snowing. Temperatures have warmed, winds have increased and snow is falling. The storm is coming from the East, hitting Portage Valley with several inches of snow at sea level overnight. Girdwood Valley has seen 4-6″ of snow at the mid to upper elevations. Turnagain Pass looks to be un-favored with a mear 1-2″ so far.
Light snowfall should continue today with an evening total of 6-8″ at the upper elevations in Girdwood Valley and 3-5″ at Turnagain Pass. The Summit Lake area may squeeze an inch or two, but this system looks to be favoring Portage Valley and North.
The excitement is building and powder fever is setting in. Please remember, not only is it early season, with plenty of rocks and alders to get caught in, we are also expecting increasing avalanche danger as well.
What to watch for:
1 – How much new snow has fallen?
2 – Has the wind blown, or blowing?
3 – Are there fresh wind slabs that crack at your feet? Stiffer snow over weaker snow?
Today’s equation is relatively simple. New snow + wind = wind slabs. If you find an area that has seen enough new snow for a wind slab, it is likely to be triggered easily on the steeper slopes (such as 35 degrees or steeper). Turnagain Pass is still VERY thin and may only see a couple inches of new snow – in this case avalanches are not expected. In the Portage and Girdwood Valleys, there looks to be enough snow to form shallow wind slabs.
As we head into this week, the main concern is weak faceted snow that will be covered up in the next few days. See Heather’s video below. Other slopes are covered with hard crusts and hard wind drifts. The weak faceted snow is our greatest concern for future snow load as it will likely inhibit the new snow from bonding. More to come on this during the week.
A look at the ridgeline conditions before snowfall:
Temperatures have warmed (relatively, to the 20’s and 30F), winds have increased from the East (Moderately, to the 15-25 mph) and snow is falling. The storm is coming from the East, hitting Whittier and spilling over into the Portage Valley with several inches of snow at sea level overnight. Girdwood Valley has seen similar, yet with 4-6″ of snow at the mid to upper elevations. Turnagain Pass weather stations are reporting a mear 1-2″ so far.
Light snowfall should continue through most of the day and begin to tapper off this afternoon/evening. A total of 6-8″ is expected at the upper elevations in Girdwood Valley and 3-5″ at Turnagain Pass. The Summit Lake area may squeeze an inch or two, but this system looks to be favoring Portage Valley and North.
After this system passes, another yet stronger low pressure moves in Monday night. And another one after that. Here are the National Weather Station ‘icons’ for the grid point over Turnagian pass:
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||26||1″||0.1″||7″|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||15||0||0||7″|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||20||4.5″||0.3″||11″|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||22||Sensor Rimed||Sensor Rimed||Sensor Rimed|
|05/06/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Pastoral Peak, north face||Andy Duenow|
|04/10/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Wolverine||Mike Records|
|04/10/20||Turnagain||Observation: Eddies lookers right shoulder||Matt Yoder|
|04/09/20||Turnagain||Observation: Bench Peak||Mike Records|
|04/04/20||Turnagain||Observation: Pete’s North||Anonymous|
|03/26/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Tincan – Proper (SW facing)||CNFAIC Staff|
|03/26/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Seattle Ridge||W Wagner Forecaster|
|03/25/20||Turnagain||Avalanche: Sunburst Uptrack @ 2000′||J. Boisvert|
|03/24/20||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain – Road Observations||W Wagner 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
|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.