Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Thu, November 29th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Fri, November 30th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is  MODERATE  in the Alpine where triggering a slab avalanche is possible on all aspects. Below 2500′ the danger is  LOW where freezing temperature are helping a thin and wet snowpack form a crust.  

Special Announcements

The Friends of the CNFAIC have two scholarships dedicated to avalanche education. The funds generated to make these possible are in celebration of Rob Hammel and Amy Downing, their love and passion for the mountains, and to help others stay safe. We encourage you to read each one and apply if you fit the need, or pass along to someone who could benefit.  Applications due on Dec 1st.

Rob Hammel Scholarship Fund   €“ For recreational users and professional avalanche workers.

Amy Downing Scholarship Fund   €“ For recreational users.

Thu, November 29th, 2018
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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
  • Certain
    Very Likely
  • Historic (D4-5)
    Very Large (D3)
    Large (D2)
    Small (D1)
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.

Likelihood of Avalanches
Terms such as "unlikely", "likely", and "certain" are used to define the scale, with the chance of triggering or observing avalanches increasing as we move up the scale. For our purposes, "Unlikely" means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. "Certain" means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches are expected.

Size of Avalanches
Avalanche size is defined by the largest potential avalanche, or expected range of sizes related to the problem in question. Assigned size is a qualitative estimate based on the destructive classification system and requires specialists to estimate the harm avalanches may cause to hypothetical objects located in the avalanche track (AAA 2016, CAA 2014). Under this schema, "Small" avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become "Large" enough to bury, injure, or kill people. "Very Large" avalanches may bury or destroy vehicles or houses, and "Historic" avalanches are massive events capable of altering the landscape.

Signal Word Size (D scale) Simple Descriptor
Small 1 Unlikely to bury a person
Large 2 Can bury a person
Very Large 3 Can destroy a house
Historic 4 & 5 Can destroy part or all of a village
More info at Avalanche.org

Last night was the first freeze in five days since a series of warm and wet storms ended yesterday morning.  Not much snow exists below 2000′ due to heavy rain that may have reached ridgetops at times. We don’t have a lot of information from the upper elevations, above 2500’, at this point. We know 4+’ of snow fell over a four-day period and strong Easterly winds have loaded leeward features and cross-loaded other aspects. Prior to this storm a melt-freeze crust and surface hoar formed in the upper elevations. We don’t know how much avalanche activity occurred during the storm and if this poor structure is lingering in places that haven’t avalanched.

Today triggering an avalanche is possible in the Alpine and could be large enough to bury a person. If you hike into the Alpine where there is enough snow to slide ease into avalanche terrain with a cautious mindset. We are still in the 48-hour period since heavy snow and strong winds formed storm slabs. Avoid avalanche terrain if you observe any signs of instability: recent avalanches, shooting cracks, or whumpfing

Webcam pictures from DOT weather station provided our first glimpse into the Alpine yesterday afternoon – Northern and Western aspects of Tincan above 2000′. 



Brief clearing in the afternoon provided a nice glimpse of an Eastern aspect of Seattle Ridge. Note how little snow exists in the lower elevations.



West aspect of Butch in foreground and Northern aspects of Tenderfoot and Tri-Tip in the background. Photo from Mon Nov. 26  at Lower Summit Lake.

Thu, November 29th, 2018

Yesterday: Moderate Easterly ridgetop winds diminished yesterday morning becoming light by early evening. Skies were obscure most of the day a broken period late afternoon. Temperatures dropped below freezing last night allowing 0.1 € of snow water equivalent to fall as an inch of snow to sea level from Girdwood to Turnagain Pass last night.

Today: Scattered snow showers and a trace of snow are possible this morning with clearing skies in the forecast this afternoon. In the upper elevations temps will average in the low 20Fs and upper 20Fs near sea level.   Winds will remain light and variable.

Tomorrow: Temperatures will start to increase as another storm moves into our region Friday into Saturday. This storm will have a Southwesterly flow, which typically favors Hatcher Pass for precipitation. Temperatures are expected to reach above freezing and rain is likely in the mid and lower elevations. Increasing temps and winds are expected in the Western Chugach and Kenai Mountain.

 *Seattle Ridge weather station stopped collecting wind data at 10 pm on Nov 27, 2018.  

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 29    1″ 0.1   10  
Summit Lake (1400′) 27   0   0   0  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 30   1″ 0.16   *N/A  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 21   ENE   5   27  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 26   *N/A   *N/A     *N/A    
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/29/24 Turnagain Observation: Silvertip Creek
02/27/24 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
02/25/24 Turnagain Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
02/24/24 Turnagain Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
02/22/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Lynx Creek
02/22/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
02/20/24 Turnagain Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
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.