Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Fri, December 1st, 2017 - 7:00AM
Sat, December 2nd, 2017 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  CONSIDERABLE near and above  treeline (above 1000′). The recent storm has loaded a weak snowpack.  Triggering a slab 1 – 2+ feet thick is likely on slopes steeper than 35 degrees. Remote triggered avalanches are possible. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential today.    

Below 1000′ the avalanche danger is  MODERATE  where wet snow has cooled to form a breakable surface crust, but an avalanche from above is still possible.    

*Below Treeline: ICE CLIMBERS in Portage Valley: Avalanches today could be triggered remotely and propagate into higher terrain, sending debris over climbing routes.

Special Announcements

Motorized use on Turnagain Pass is closed due to insufficient snow cover.  Please see riding area status at the bottom of this page for the most up-to-date information.

Snowmachine Specific €“ Avalanche Safety and Lessons Learned at AMDS,  December 5th  @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm | FREE  Join CNFAIC forecasters at Alaska Mining and Diving Supply for a  talk about lessons learned from past avalanche events and get your brain in gear for avalanche season.

The  CNFAIC Events Calendar  is filling up with avalanche education opportunities. Check it out and find a class that is right for you!  

**For Hatcher Pass avalanche conditions see  hpavalanche.org.


Fri, December 1st, 2017
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slabs
Persistent Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
More info at Avalanche.org

The snowpack in the advisory area remains touchy and the hazard continues to be elevated due to the slab, 10-20″ thick, sitting on a weak layer of faceted snow. This weak snow rests either on the ground or overlying a melt-freeze crust near the ground. This is not a set-up that will stabilize quickly, i.e. persistent slab. As the slab becomes more cohesive it may actually become more consequential. Yesterday the snowpack was “talkative” and observers noted many whumpfs, shooting cracks and some remotely triggered avalanches. These are all red flags.  The snowpack is clearly saying, “Hey, I am unstable!”  Step off of the skin track once in while and if you hear or feeling something let your group know. Triggering a slab on steep terrain remains likely, especially in leeward, wind loaded areas. Collapses (whumpfs) may propagate failure over large pieces of terrain and remotely triggering an avalanche is possible. This means you could trigger an avalanche from below while putting in a skin track. Eddies and Seattle Ridge both have this potential.  Many slopes have slid but that doesn’t mean that the ones that haven’t, won’t. Steep slopes with cracking on them may still release. Be aware of runout distances and terrain traps. Overall it is still fairly shallow and rocky, and getting caught in an avalanche could take you for a very unpleasant ride. Staying on slopes less than 35 degrees will be crucial in terrain choices today. In addition pay attention to other groups in the area. Where you step may cause an avalanche in steeper terrain onto another party or you may expose yourself to another groups remote trigger. 

 Small avalanche remotely triggered yesterday by stepping off of the skin track. 

Avalanche triggered remotely by snowboarder on the adjacent slope. Photo: Mike Ausman

Avalanches in a gully feature, Tincan Trees. 



Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
Wind Slabs
Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind 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

In wind exposed areas of the alpine the new snow/old snow interface is more variable, and wind slabs may have formed in places without weak faceted snow underneath. These wind slabs are likely isolated, 1-2’ thick on leeward features below ridge tops. Wind slabs could be soft or hard depending on exposure to winds and if triggered could release a larger persistent slab lower down on the slope. Today is not the time to be pushing into steep terrain. Avoiding slopes greater than 35 degrees is recommended.


Avalanches off of CFR and the ridge below in leeward terrain. 

Fri, December 1st, 2017

Yesterday was partly cloudy with light easterly winds that shifted to the west overnight. Temperatures were in the mid 20Fs to mid 30Fs during the day and cooled into the low 20Fs overnight.  

Today will be mostly sunny with highs in the upper 20Fs. Winds will be light and southerly. Overnight there is a chance of snow, 1-2″. Temperatures will drop into the low 20Fs-high teens.  

Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with snow showers. Another 1-2″ is forecasted to fall. The storm track for Saturday looks to favor the Susitna Valley as it moves up Cook Inlet from the SW.  The next system on Sunday is a low with the favorable SE flow that could bring precipitation to the advisory area. The NWS forecast discussion this morning was less confident on the timing and details. Definitely stay tuned for precipitation amounts, wind speeds and temperatures… think cold thoughts.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 33    0  0  18
Summit Lake (1400′) 25  0  0 16  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 28  0  0 7  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  21  E 9   22  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  25 rimed    rimed rimed  
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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.