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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
Wed, December 5th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Expires
Thu, December 6th, 2018 - 7:00AM
Forecaster
Wendy Wagner
The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains  MODERATE  above 2500′ in the Alpine. As easterly winds continue, triggering a wind slab in steep terrain will be possible.  Additionally, triggering a slab avalanche 1-3′ thick, releasing on buried surface hoar, is still possible though trending to a lower likelihood.

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Wed, December 5th, 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
  • 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

Sustained moderate winds from the east have been blowing for four days and will remain, to varying degrees, over the region again today. These winds have redistributed the snow and formed wind slabs and not-so-fun crusts is many areas; see Monday’s field report from Turnagain HERE. Wind slabs could be found in steep terrain and could be hard enough, and stubborn enough, to allow a person on to them before popping loose. Look for stiff, pillowed snow, cracking and listen for hollow, drum-like sounds. 

Wind effect along Sunburst Ridge looking north toward Tincan Ridge.

Avalanche Problem 2
  • 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

At the upper elevations we are keeping tabs on a thin layer of buried surface hoar sitting 1-3′ below the surfaceAn observer Sunday found this layer to still be reactive in a snowpit on Sunburst right around 2500′. Monday at 3100′ on Sunburst there were no results testing this layer but it was very easy to spot laid over in the snowpack. Side note, this layer was unreactive last week at 3,150′ on Tincan as well. The concern is finding a slope with buried surface hoar that is still intact, upright and reactive enough that it propagates into an avalanche. At this point obvious signs of instability may not be seen but some lingering suspicion is advised even as the likelihood decreases. As always use safe travel protocol and choose terrain with consequences in mind. For example, where is the avalanche path and where would I end up if the slope slides? 

 

Pastoral Peak, looking east from Sunburst through Taylor Pass. Note the crown of a large avalanche under the rock band on Pastoral – earthquake triggered slab on Nov 30th. This avalanche likely released on the Nov. 23 buried surface hoar. 

 

Surface conditions below 1,500′ at Turnagain Pass.

Weather
Wed, December 5th, 2018

Yesterday:   Mostly cloudy to obscured skies were over the area. Ridgetop winds over the past 24 hours have been moderate (10-20mph) from the east with gusts up to 40mph. Temperatures have climbed overnight and sit in the mid 30’sF at 1,000′ and the upper 20’sF along ridgetops this morning.

Today:    Partly cloudy to cloudy skies are expected with a chance for a few raindrops below 1,500′ and snowflakes above 1,500′. No measureable precip is forecast. Ridgetops winds will remain easterly in the 15-20mph range with gusts to the 40’s. Temperatures should remain warm, with daytime highs up to 38F at 1,000′ and 30F along ridgetops.  

Tomorrow:    Unsettled warm weather is forecast to continue with rain and snow showers picking up Thursday afternoon and intensifying on Friday. Our friends at the NWS said this about the upcoming system  The track of the storm favors western Prince William Sound/eastern  Kenai Peninsula for some of the heaviest precipitation with strong  east to southeast upslope flow. Warm air accompanying the low  means most of this will be in the form of rain”. The rain/snow like for Friday looks to push into the 2,000′ plus range.  

 *Seattle Ridge wind sensor is rimed over. Alyeska Mid Wx Station and Summit Lake Snotel snow depth sensor are not functioning.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 33   1   0.1   13  
Summit Lake (1400′) 29   0   0   5 (estimate)  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 32   trace   0.23   0.2  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 25   NE   15   42  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 28   *no data   *no data     *no data    
Observations
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
05/06/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Pastoral Peak, north face
04/10/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Wolverine
04/10/20 Turnagain Observation: Eddies lookers right shoulder
04/09/20 Turnagain Observation: Bench Peak
04/04/20 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
04/04/20 Turnagain Observation: Pete’s North
03/26/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan – Proper (SW facing)
03/26/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Seattle Ridge
03/25/20 Turnagain Avalanche: Sunburst Uptrack @ 2000′
03/24/20 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain – Road Observations
Riding Areas
Updated Fri, May 01st, 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
Closed as of May 1. Thanks for a fun, safe season!
Twentymile
Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake
Closed
Lost Lake Trail
Closed
Primrose Trail
Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail
Closed
Snug Harbor
Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor
Closed
Summit Lake
Closed

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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.