Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, March 25th 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 on all aspects and elevations this morning. Intense sun, little wind and slightly warmer temperatures may increase the danger to MODERATE in the afternoon on steep southerly facing slopes for wet point release avalanches and cornice failures.

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 or a cornice falls.

 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.
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Avalanche Problem 1

Today will be our 9th day of high-and-dry weather conditions. This comes after a week-long onslaught brought up to 5' of snow to many areas around Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Pass. Since then the snowpack has settled, weak layers have adjusted to the load, and mild weather have all contributed to stabilizing the snowpack.

How are the surface conditions? Well, variable. Northerly aspects have seen a fair amount of wind damage, yet amongst the hard wind slabs/crusts there is plenty of soft settled snow that can be found. Steeper slopes on southerly aspects have seen a melt-freeze regime, with sun crusts softening during the day. East and West are a bit of a combination. Slide-for-life conditions do exist out there and one party unfortunately found one of these areas Sunday. Check out their account HERE as well as the write up of a party that came on scene to help HERE. Thanks to these folks for writing in and we are glad all are ok!

Despite the unlikely event of triggering an avalanche, it is still possible to encounter the following:

This is the time of year (increased sun exposure and warm weather) that encourage cornice failure. Steering well clear of these from above and minimizing time below is recommended. There was a report the came in yesterday of a cornice fall that triggered a very large avalanche in Portage Valley - it is unclear when this event occurred but nonetheless, cornice falls are very serious and deserve respect when travelling in the mountains.

Wet Loose avalanches:
Steep terrain receiving intense sun should soften up by the afternoon. These steep southerly slopes hold the potential for wet point release avalanches or push-a-lanches (triggering a point release by pushing softened snow down a steep slope with a ski or boot/etc). Though they are likely to be low volume, if triggered in a long narrow chute they can entrain enough heavy snow to push you around and be a real concern. 

Old Wind Slabs and Persistent Slabs:
As with any travel in extreme and committing terrain, finding an old wind slab is always something to keep in mind.  Also, there are old weak layers of snow buried 2-5 feet deep - under the storm snow from mid-March. Although these weak layers have entered the dormant phase, it is still worth remembering for now.  It would take a very large trigger (large group of snowmachines or people) to possibly initiate an avalanche. Thin spots of the snowpack in very steep terrain would be the most likely place for an outlier event like this to occur. 

Mountain Weather

Yesterday was yet another day of clear skies and mild weather. During the past 24-hours ridge top temperatures have averaged in the mid to upper 20'sF and winds have been light (~5mph) from the East with a slight bump to 10-15mph for an hour early this morning. Overnight, a healthy inversion has set in with single digit temperatures in valley bottoms while the ridge tops are reading between 23 and 27F.

Another beautiful sunny day is in store for today. Temperatures are looking to be a bit warmer than the past few days with highs on the ridge tops reaching the low 30'sF and at 1,000' the low 40'sF. Winds are forecast to remain light from the East, blowing around 5mph.

It looks like this stubborn blocking high pressure is here to stay well into next week. The NWS is hinting at a possible pattern change next week but time will tell. 


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: Oct 05, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed. Will be open for the 2019/20 season pending adequate snow cover.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed

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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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