Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Tue, December 5th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Wed, December 6th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Aleph Johnston-Bloom
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  CONSIDERABLE  at all elevations today. Triggering a slab 2-3+ feet thick will be likely on slopes steeper than 30 degrees and natural avalanches are possible as the next storm system moves into the region. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential today. Pay attention to changing conditions. If today’s storm is more intense than forecasted the danger will bump back up to HIGH.  

Below 1,000′ where predominantly rain is falling, debris running into these lower elevations from avalanches remains possible along with wet loose avalanches on steep slopes.  

Special Announcements

**Increased avalanche conditions have been seen across Southcentral, Alaska. This includes an Avalanche Warning issued through the NWS for High Avalanche Danger at Hatcher Pass, see updated forecast  at  hpavalanche.org.  

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,  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.


Know Before You Go – Avalanche Awareness at the Seward Community Library, December 8th,  1 pm – 4 pm  | FREE Join CNFAIC for a great intro to avalanche recognition and rescue, including hands-on beacon practice.


Tue, December 5th, 2017
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
3 - Considerable
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
  • Storm Slabs
    Storm Slabs
Storm Slabs
Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within new snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slabs typically last between a few hours and few days (following snowfall). Storm-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

The advisory area continues to be in an unsettled weather pattern. Snowfall, rain and wind will continue to add stress to the snowpack. Yesterday was a lull in intensity after 2-3′ of snow (2-3″ of rain at sea level) fell and winds gusted over 100mph on Saturday. There was evidence of an avalanche cycle during the storm observed yesterday. This was not quite as widespread as expected which leaves many slopes suspect and human triggered avalanches likely and additional natural avalanches possible. An example illustrating this point is that avalanche hazard mitigation in the Girdwood Valley yesterday produced avalanches running to ground on slopes adjacent to natural avalanches that had run in the storm. Translation: slopes that haven’t slid could be hanging in the balance waiting for a trigger. Don’t be that trigger. It might not be the 1st person on the slope. The slab depth has increased over the weak faceted snow. Remember the facets were very reactive prior to the storm. Staying off of slopes steeper than 30 degrees and avoiding runout zones will be important today. A small slide into a terrain trap could be consequential.  Additional snow and rain are forecasted to fall and winds could move snow at upper elevations increasing the load today.  This snowpack will need time to adjust. Be patient and be on the lookout for recent avalanches, cracking and collapsing, signs that the snowpack unstable. 

Natural avalanches on Sunburst that occurred during the storm Saturday.


Small avalanches and wind effect in along Seattle Ridge. 


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

Very high winds during the storm Saturday have loaded leeward slopes. In addition there is snow falling today and winds gusting into the 40s. Winds slabs are likely found along ridgelines as well as lower down slopes due to those high wind speeds on Saturday. Pay attention to cracking and hollow sounding snow. 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 30 degrees is recommended.

Wind loading on leeward slopes, Tincan.

Tue, December 5th, 2017

Yesterday was overcast with light rain and snow showers on and off throughout the day. Winds were easterly 15-25 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph. Upper elevations picked up an additional 2-5″ of snow and rain fell to around 1500′. Temperatures were as high as 40F at sea level and the mid to high 20s at upper elevations.  

Today will be mostly cloudy with .4″ of water (4-6″ snow) forecasted to fall. Today will start warmer and cool a bit this morning bringing the snow level down. Winds will be easterly 10-20 mph gusting into the 40s.Tonight into tomorrow a stronger wave of precipitation is forecasted to impact the area. The model runs on this are still uncertain this morning, however looking into the future NWS says “Much more confidence exists in the forecast for  Southcentral to remain well above normal for temperatures, and  continue to deal with round after round of moisture from the  subtropical Pacific.  Stay tuned!  

*Center Ridge SNOTEL is reporting erroneous temperature data. See  Turnagain Pass DOT weather station  for accurate temperature at 1000′.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 32*    0  .2 29  
Summit Lake (1400′) 33   0  .3  9
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 34   0  .2  18

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′)  24  ENE  26 60  
Seattle Ridge (2400′)  28  ESE    18 40
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/27/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Ridge
11/26/23 Turnagain Observation: Road report: Slide with dirt on Repeat offender
11/26/23 Turnagain Observation: Pete’s North
11/25/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan trees
11/21/23 Observation: Spokane Creek
11/20/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Magnum – PMS Bowl
11/19/23 Other Regions Observation: Sunnyside/Penguin
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Eddies
11/19/23 Turnagain Observation: Cornbiscuit
Riding Areas

The riding areas page has moved. Please click here & update your bookmarks.

Subscribe to Turnagain Pass
Avalanche Forecast by Email

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.