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Turnagain Pass Avalanche Forecast RSS

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ARCHIVED FORECAST - All forecasts expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Issued
Sun, December 2nd, 2018 - 7:00AM
Expires
Mon, December 3rd, 2018 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains  MODERATE  above 2500′ in the Alpine. Human triggered slab avalanches up to 1-3′ thick remain possible due to a weak layer of snow under the Thanksgiving weekend storm snow. Additionally, watch for wind slabs that could form today, or did yesterday, with the continued southerly and easterly ridgetop winds.

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Sun, December 2nd, 2018
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Moderate (2)
Avalanche risk
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Low (1)
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
No Rating (0)
Avalanche risk
Alpine
Above 2,500'
Avalanche risk
Moderate (2)
Treeline
1,000'-2,500'
Avalanche risk
Low (1)
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
Avalanche risk
No Rating (0)
Danger Scale:
No Rating (0)
Low (1)
Moderate (2)
Considerable (3)
High (4)
Extreme (5)
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Persistent Slabs
    Persistent Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
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.

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

Snowy skies are in the forecast for today and tonight. Although Turnagain Pass is not favored for this storm, up to 3″ could fall by this evening and an additional 3 to 6″ tonight. The Portage zone and areas on the southern Kenai should see rain at sea level but up to a foot of snow by tomorrow morning at the mid elevations. The rain line should hover near 1,000′ and possibly lower. Will this system start building back the mid elevation snowpack? It could be a start, but another warm system looks to move in Monday night. 

At the higher elevations, even small amounts of new snow will add weight to our existing snowpack. Sitting anywhere from 1 to 3′ below the snow surface is a thin layer of weak snow (buried surface hoar) . Friday’s earthquake gave this layer a good shake and triggering a large slide may becoming less and less likely, however it is still a concern. We can’t forget this layer is there in terrain above 2,500′, which can be easy as any obvious signs of instability are not likely to be seen. What we can do is listen for whumpfing, use safe travel protocol and choose lower angle slopes if we wish to avoid any uncertainty. 

Avalanche Problem 2
  • Wind Slabs
    Wind Slabs
  • Almost Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
    Likelihood
  • Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small
    Size
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.

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

Moderate to strong ridgetop winds from the south and east are again over the area. Wind slabs lurking in catchment zones from yesterday as well as new slabs formed today are possible to find and trigger in steep terrain. Keep an eye out for yesterday’s wind loading patterns, which could be obscured by last night’s one to two inches of snow. Snowfall should accompany the strongest winds today, which are forecast for the afternoon. 

Weather
Sun, December 2nd, 2018

Yesterday:   Mostly cloudy skies were over the area with light snow showers adding 1-2″ of snow in the evening. Winds were strong out of the northeast at Sunburst weather station, yet the main flow direction was more southerly. Temperatures were in the low 30’s F at most mid and low elevations and in the upper 20’s F along ridgelines.

Today:   Another round of light snowfall is expected later today (1 to 3″) that could continue through tonight (an additional 3 to 6″). Snow/rain line should hover around 1,000′. This system is coming in from the SW and more favorable for snowfall in the Anchorage area and Hatcher Pass. Associated winds will again be southerly and easterly in the 20-30mph range with stronger gusts. Temperatures will remain in the low 30’s near 1,000′ and the mid to upper 20’s along ridgetops.

Tomorrow:   A short break in weather systems will give us mostly sunny skies for Monday. Models are showing that Monday night clouds and precipitation move back in as another large low-pressure pushes a moist frontal band over Southcentral.  

*Seattle Ridge wind sensor is rimed over.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 32   2   0.2   12  
Summit Lake (1400′) 28   1   0.1   2  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 31    0 0.15   0  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23   NE   21   56  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 27   *no data   *no data     *no data    
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Riding Areas
Updated Mon, October 26th, 2020

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: mailroom_r10_chugach@fs.fed.us

Area Status Weather & Riding Conditions
Glacier District
Johnson Pass
Closed
Placer River
Closed
Skookum Drainage
Closed
Turnagain Pass
Closed
Twentymile
Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake
Closed
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Closed
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Closed
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Snug Harbor
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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.