Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 30th 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 continues to be a LOW avalanche danger at all elevations and on all aspects in the Eastern Turnagain Arm and Northern Kenai Mountains. Watch for cornice falls, especially during the heat of the day, and human triggered low volume loose snow avalanches on very steep slopes. 

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.
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Avalanche Problem 1

With very stable and tranquil weather there has been little change in the avalanche conditions for the past couple weeks and we continue to be in a "copy and paste" regime. Weak layers that were buried with up to 5 feet of snow just over two weeks ago have since adjusted to the load. Currently, we are dealing with a few springtime concerns as can be seen in the video below.



Despite the low avalanche danger, there are good sized cornices that continue to "creep" (slow and continuous downhill movement/deformation of the snowcover) causing them to curl over a little more each day. This is also causing them to separate from the ground/ridge underneath creating "cornice crevasses" (which can be a hazard in itself). A cornice failure is - by far - the most dangerous avalanche problem in the backcountry currently. Cornice falls are very hard to predict but we do know they are more likely to calve or fall during the warm part of the day. With that said, always minimize your time under or near cornices by giving them a wide berth.

                        Photo is from the Magnum SW ridgeline with sections of the cornice falling off - full write up HERE.


Loose snow avalanches:
Be on the lookout for unconsolidated surface snow to move when provoked by a snowmachine, skis or snowboard.  These can be dry snow sluffs on Northerly facing slopes or moist/wet snow sluffs on steep south slopes. Though these are likely to be low in volume, this issue does become more pronounced in high consequence terrain.

Snow surface conditions:
Despite the sunny weather, the temperatures have been cold enough that significant warming has yet to impact our area. This has resulted in aspects with a northerly tilt to have several inches of soft re-crystalized powder on the surface - this includes many West and East aspects. Additionally, much of the old hard wind affected snow is being 'eaten' away by the faceting process as well. Southerly aspects however are in a melt-freeze regime, with variable sun crusts that soften for a few hours during daytime heating and sunshine.

“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

Are we really going to finish up March with only one storm cycle? Check out the monthly graph HERE (if it doesn't load the first time just re-fresh the page). More monthly numbers coming up on Tuesday's advisory, but it does look like the snowpack at Turnagain Pass is sitting just above 50% of normal.

Another brilliant day was had in the mountains yesterday. Sunny skies, a light Northwesterly breeze and temperatures reaching the upper 20'sF on the ridge tops. Overnight temperatures have dropped to the low teens in valley bottoms and near 20F at the upper elevations. The Northwest winds have averaged around 5mph and are rising slightly this morning.

Today - another brilliant day is on tap with sunny skies. The Northwesterly breeze will continue to be mostly light with some ridge tops seeing possilby 10-15mph averages. Temperatures look to reach the upper 20'sF on the ridge tops once again.

For the beginning of the week, we are looking at: yep - sunny skies, a light Northwesterly breeze and temperatures reaching the upper 20'sF on the ridge tops. However.....we should see warmer air move in later/mid week along with a wind shift to the South and East as a low pressure currently in the Bering slowly moves East. As far as a much needed re-fresher of snow, that is still too far out to hazard a guess.


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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