Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Monday, March 31st 2014 7:00 am by Graham Predeger
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

With no substantial change in the weather again today the avalanche danger will continue to be pegged at LOW for all aspects and elevations in the advisory area.

Beyond your standard safe backcountry travel protocol, cornice failure and low volume loose snow avalanches will again be the primary concerns for today.

 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

It’s been 16 days now since the climax of our March avalanche cycle where up to 5 feet of snow fell across the zone in a 5-day period.  The weak layers underlying that slab have since adjusted to the load and we’ve experienced exceptional stability as of late throughout the core advisory area.  That being said, there are still a few springtime concerns that garner attention.


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 fail as the day heats up.  During this extended high pressure, with warm daytime temps and light winds, large overhanging cornices will continue to ripen toward likely failure.  As always, minimize your time spent underneath or near corniced ridges by giving them an extra wide berth when travelling below or ridge-walking.

Avalanche Problem 2

Surface snow on non-solar aspects continues to facet and rot-out.  This is making for great surface conditions on north aspects considering it hasn’t snowed in well over two-weeks.  Sluffing may prove a concern in steep, high consequence terrain for knocking a skier or boarder off their feet.  This is less of a concern if you’ve got a motor underneath you, as any snow moving will be low volume.

On steep solar aspects a skier or rider may be able to initiate a wet snow slide as these slopes heat up late in the day.  Once again these will be low in volume but potentially dangerous in high consequence terrain such as above a terrain trap

“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 continually assess and re-assess as you travel through the mountains today.

Mountain Weather

Abundant sunshine and comfortable temperatures seem to be the norm for us here in south central AK this March.  Let’s hope we are this lucky in June, July and August!  Ridgetop winds kicked up slightly yesterday from the northwest though not quite enough to make snow transport a concern.  At lower elevations along Turnagain Arm, local gap winds were observed with a peak gust of 50mph in Whittier.  Temperatures were pleasant again reaching into the mid-30’s at 1,000’.

We have a similar day on tap today with temps topping out in the mid-30’s again and a northwest wind in the 0-10mph range.  Persistent sunshine continues as the blocking high-pressure ridge over central Alaska endures, keeping the Aleutian low to our west at bay (see below).  Look for the March weather summary in Wendy’s forecast tomorrow morning.

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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