Turnagain Pass RSS

ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Wed, April 10th, 2019 - 7:00AM
Thu, April 11th, 2019 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is generally LOW  throughout the region. Keep in mind, glide avalanches are still a concern and can release at anytime. Continue to watch for and avoid/limit travel under glide cracks. Additionally, give cornices a wide berth while traveling along ridgelines. Triggering a wet loose sluff may be possible on steep sunny slopes later in the day and shallow winds slabs could be found on high elevation leeward slopes.  

GIRDWOOD VALLEY:   Wet loose sluffs composed of the 4-10″ of new snow from the past several days may be seen on steep sunny slopes. Also, watch for stubborn wind slabs up to a foot thick in the higher elevations.

PORTAGE VALLEY:   Summer trails with large steep slopes overhead, such as the Byron Glacier Trail, provide easy access for accidentally being in a dangerous place. Large cornices and wet loose avalanches can occur far above on hot afternoons/evenings that could send debris to valley floors and threaten hikers. Travel in these areas is not recommended without avalanche training to recognize, and avoid, the overhead threat.

Wed, April 10th, 2019
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
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
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

As the saying goes, low danger doesn’t mean no danger. Despite the clearer skies, cooler temperatures and a good re-freeze on the surface overnight; there are still a few ‘normal caution’ avalanche issues to be aware of if heading into the hills. These are:

GLIDE AVALANCHES:  Although it has been several days since we have seen a glide crack release into an avalanche in high traveled zones, avoiding/limiting travel under cracks is prudent! They can release at anytime, are completely unpredictable and can be very destructive. The good news is, they are easy to avoid if you look for them as they show their cards with a large brown crack. 

CORNICE FALLS:  Daytime warming will help to de-stabilize cornices. As always, and especially in the spring, give cornices an extra wide berth.

WET LOOSE:  Wet sluffs on steep warm sunny slopes could be triggered today – if the sun stays out long enough this afternoon. This is most likely on upper elevation southerly slopes that have a few new inches of snow from over the weekend.

WIND SLABS:  Some areas received enough snow over the weekend to blow into shallow wind slabs (North end of Turnagain Pass, Girdwood Valley and Portage areas). These slabs could still be sensitive on shaded slopes above 3,000′. Watching for areas of wind drifted snow and cracking in the snow will be key. Even small wind slabs can be dangerous in high consequence terrain.

Looking ahead, stormy weather is on the way and expect avalanche danger to increase tomorrow, Thursday.

Seattle Ridge on Sunday, Apr 7. Many glide cracks still hang in the balance despite the many glide avalanches that have released on this ridgeline.

The Cornice Line on Sunburst Ridge yesterday. Although some cornices have shed much of their bulk during the March storms, many cornices remain large and waiting to peel off. 


Video link HERE.

Wed, April 10th, 2019

Yesterday:   Partly cloudy skies were over the region. Light rain fell in Portage Valley (.3″) while no measureable precipitation was recorded for Turnagain Pass or Girdwood. Ridgetop winds were easterly 10-20mph during the day before quieting down to the 5mph range overnight. Temperatures climbed to near 30F along ridgelines and the low 40’sF at 1,000′ before dropping overnight into the 20’sF at most elevations.  

Today:   Mostly clear skies are expected over the region with high clouds, and possibly light showers, moving in later this afternoon. Ridgetop winds are light and easterly this morning but forecast to rise into the 10-20mph by this evening. Clear skies last night allowed temperatures to cool into the 20’s at the low elevations and should bounce back into the 40’sF by this afternoon. Ridgetop temperatures look to climb into the low 30’s with daytime warming.

Tomorrow:   A large low pressure system churning in the Northern Pacific will push a frontal wave over our area Thursday. Heavy rain up to 1,500′ with wet snow above is expected along with strong easterly winds (50-60mph). Snowfall amounts in the high elevations look to be in the 5-10″ range at this point. For Friday, cloudy skies, light showers and decreasing winds are expected as the storm slowly moves out.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 35   0   0   62  
Summit Lake (1400′) 33   0   0   19  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 35   0   0   57  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 26   NE   8   32
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 31   SE   6   14  
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Eddie’s, Sunburst, Seattle, Cornbiscuit, Pete’s South
05/13/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass non-motorized side
05/12/24 Turnagain Observation: Warm up Bowl
05/07/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Pass Wet Slabs
04/29/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Turnagain aerial obs
04/27/24 Turnagain Observation: Johnson Pass
04/23/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain Sunny Side
04/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Bertha Creek
04/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Spokane Creek
04/16/24 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.