Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, March 29th 2014 7:00 am by John Fitzgerald
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW across the forecast area today.

Remember that LOW danger does not mean NO danger.  Cornice falls and human triggered low volume loose snow avalanches are the main snowpack issues today.  As always it is important to practice good travel habits; expose only one person at a time, use islands of safety when stopping in steep terrain, and communicate plans within your group effectively.

 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

It has now been over two weeks since the last significant precipitation fell on Turnagain Pass.  Weak layers that were buried by up to 5 feet of snow in mid March have since adjusted to the load.

Aspects receiving direct sunlight have gone through a steady pattern of melt/freeze.  This has resulted in a surface that is crusty when out of the sun and soft after several hours of heating.  Aspects devoid of sunlight (on the North half of the compass) have been going through the faceting process.  As a result the surface on shaded aspects is becoming more loose over time.  Winds from 10 days ago formed stiff wind slabs in the higher elevations.  In areas where these old wind slabs exist, the faceting or “re crystallizing” is happening more slowly.

Loose snow avalanches
What this all boils down to is the potential for both dry and wet loose avalanches in terrain over 40 degrees.  The volume of these potential avalanches is very low at this point.  Despite this, it is still worth being on the lookout for unconsolidated surface snow to move under the weight of a snowmachine, skis or snowboard.  This issue becomes more pronounced in high consequence terrain and will have less of an impact on snowachiners than skiers/snowboarders due to the volume.  Steep lower elevation slopes hold the potential for slightly higher volume sluffs as temps climb above freezing today.

Cornices are starting to show potential for peeling off of ridge lines, as evidenced HERE in the Summit Lake area yesterday.  Daytime heating and a lack of wind will combine to amplify the effects of the sun on these giants.  As always, minimize your time under or near cornices by giving them a wide berth.

Photo of a cornice "moat" that a skier punched through in the Summit Lake region yesterday (Dan Starr photo)

Cornice crack Nancy's

“Heads Up” conditions in steep terrain
There are plenty of steep slopes with firm surfaces that require a healthy amount of careful and focused travel.  A fall in steep terrain could result in loss of control of a snowmachine or be difficult for skiers or snowboarders to arrest.  Pay attention to the snow surface and learn how to anticipate surface conditions by the look and texture of the snow before you are on it.

Mountain Weather

Severe clear conditions continue.  Temperatures over the past 24 hours averaged in the low 20s F at the Sunburst station (3,812’).  Winds there have been light averaging 5 mph out of the WNW.

Don’t forget the sunscreen today.  Clear and dry conditions with the potential for an occasional cloud will make for another pleasant day in the mountains.  Temperatures at 1,000’ will reach into the mid to high 30s F.  Winds will be calm.

The dominant high pressure ridge over most of mainland Alaska will continue to keep low pressure systems at bay well into next 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: 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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