Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   John Fitzgerald  
Monday, March 24th 2014
Created: Mar 24th 5:26 am
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.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW at all elevations.  Avalanches are unlikely today.  Exceptions to this are possible, mainly in the form of wet loose avalanches and cornice falls.  Big alpine terrain and steep slopes in the lower elevations will be the most likely places to encounter these issues.

Good travel habits remain important.  These include exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves.

Primary Concern

The middle part of March brought a series of loading events, dropping 3-5 feet of snow in many locations.  Since that time the snowpack has settled, weak layers have adjusted to new loads, and mild weather have all contributed to stabilizing the snowpack.  Despite this, it is still remotely possible to encounter the following:

Wet Loose avalanches
Very steep sunlit terrain and steep slopes in the lower elevations hold the potential for low volume point releases.

Give cornices a wide berth.  Stay off of them by knowing where they connect to underlying terrain.  Minimize your time below them as well.

Old Wind Slabs
Winds that kicked up 4 days ago created shallow wind slabs up to a foot deep in the higher elevations.  These slabs have been mostly unreactive with one reported exception.  

Deep Slabs
Weak layers of snow buried 2-5 feet deep exist.  The deep slab problem is in a dormant phase but is worth remembering for now.  It would take a very large trigger (large group of snowmachines or people) to wake up these layers.  Thin spots of the snowpack in very steep terrain would be the most likely place for an outlier event like this to occur.

Keep in mind that LOW danger does not mean NO danger.  Continuing to utilize good travel habits will afford the ability to minimize exposure to these exceptions to the current snowpack norms.

Mountain Weather

It has now been 10 days since any significant precipitation has fallen.  Temperatures over the past 24 hours at the Sunburst station (3,812’) have averaged 26 degrees F.  Winds there have been very light, averaging 5 mph out of the East with a max gust of 12 mph.

Today will be much like yesterday; sunny and mild with calm winds.  Temperatures at 1,000’ will climb into the high 30s F.  Winds will be out of the East at 5-10mph.

A very large ridge of high pressure is dominating the weather across most of Alaska.  This ridge is preventing any and all moisture from pushing into the region.  This pattern is now well established and looks to remain that way through most of the week.


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: Apr 11, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: OpenWide swaths of open river in the Placer Valley. Travel with extreme caution!
Skookum Drainage: ClosedSKOOKUM DRAINAGE CLOSED TO MOTORIZED USE ON APRIL 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: ClosedClosed for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for 2016/17 winter season. This is a non-motorized season. This alternates every other year and will open again during the 2017/18 winter.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
Summit Lake: Open

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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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