Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 23rd 2014 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

There is an overall LOW avalanche danger in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. LOW danger however does not mean NO danger and there are few things to watch for. These include old wind slabs, cornices and wet loose avalanches with daytime heating. On top of this, we do have a poor snowpack structure to keep in mind - especially for those folks traveling to the far reaches of the forecast zone - more on that below.

Although triggering an avalanche today will be unlikely, it is the good travel habits that hedge our bets for a safe return. These include only exposing one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Special Announcement

For anyone headed out for a "super tour" or long snowmachine ride, consider tracking your day and sending it to the University of Montana to aid in avalanche research. Participation is simple and anyone with a GPS or smartphone can contribute. Go to for more information on this project!

Avalanche Problem 1

It has been just over a week now since 3-5'+ of heavy snow fell and a significant avalanche cycle ensued. Since then, mild weather, clear skies and one windy day has produced a few small wind slabs and wet point releases - these have been in the small category. 

Normal caution issues for today:

- Old wind slabs:
     Last Thursday (3/20) winds picked up from the east and formed shallow wind slabs and crusts in many exposed locations. Keep an eye out for leeward slopes that may be harboring lingering slabs.

- Cornices:
     With significant sun exposure, cornices can become unstable and dangerous. Be suspicious of cornice collapse while traveling along or under corniced ridges.

- Wet loose point releases:
      Steep southerly slopes seeing intense sun and little wind will be suspect for triggering a damp or wet loose slide. These have been limited so far but something to watch for in steep confined terrain.

- Poor snowpack structure:
     The settled March 10-14 snow is around 2-3' deep and very strong in most areas. This 'slab' sits on a variety of crusts with weaker snow in between. Although this set up, which produced widespread avalanche activity over a week ago, has gained strength and indicated a loss in reactivity, it is still present and good to keep in mind even in these 'dormant' phases. Take home point here is: for those taking advantage of the good weather and long days to travel well off the beaten path, there is a remote possibility of a big enough trigger (such as a large group of people or snowmachines) to collapse a slope and cause an avalanche breaking in deeper weak layers.

Mountain Weather

Bluebird skies prevailed yet again yesterday. During the past 24-hours winds have been light and variable with a few gusts to 7mph from the East. Temperatures have averaged in the low 20'sF on the ridge tops and mid 30's at 1,000'.

For today, (you guessed it) another bluebird day is on tap. Winds are forecast to pick up slightly to the 5-10mph range from the East. Temperatures should climb at the ridgetops to the mid 20'sF and at 1,000' to the upper 30'sF.

Currently there is a blocking high pressure over most of mainland Alaska in the form of a "rex block". This pattern brings us light easterly flow as we are directly above the low pressure and below the high. Beginning early this week the NWS is forecasting a transition to an "omega block" which will shift the winds to the Northeast as the low center slides to the east. 

In a nut shell: 


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).

Winter snowmachine use open/closed status and riding conditions updates

Riding status is not associated with avalanche danger. An area will be open to motorized use in accordance to the Forest Management Plan when snow coverage is adequate to protect underlying vegetation. Backcountry hazards including avalanche hazard are always present regardless of the open status of motorized use areas.

(Updated: May 06, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19
Placer River: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Skookum Drainage: ClosedPlacer access closed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed as of 5/6. Thanks for a great season all, see you next winter!
Twentymile: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed as of 3.22.19 due to lack of snow
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19 due to lack of snow
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for the 2018/19 season. Next season will be open to motorized use.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClose as of 5.1.2019
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Summit Lake: Closed

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The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory provided by the Chugach National Forest, in partnership with Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

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