Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, April 8th 2014 6:31 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Most areas today will continue to have a LOW avalanche danger as only a few inches of snow is expected to blanket the mountains. However, in favored locations that see 6" or more with gusty winds the danger will rise to MODERATE. In this case, fresh wind slabs ~8" thick may be found on leeward slopes near ridgelines and on steep rollovers. Additionally, watch for shallow new snow sluffs and, if the sun pokes through later in the day, natural wet sluffs from rocks and trees.

 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

For the first time in just over 3 weeks we have measureable snow to report! However, accumulations are scant - but still accumulations nonetheless. So far we have picked up roughly 3" in Turnagain Pass and Girdwood Valley with another 1-3" possible today. Colder air is moving in and the new snow is low in denisty and reaching sea level.

Winds are forecast to be generally light, but on some ridge tops may be just strong enough to move the light snow around and form shallow wind slabs on leeward slopes. With such low snow amounts these are not likely to pose much threat unless you find yourself in a zone with 6" or so of new snow. In this case, quick hand pits, watching for wind drifted snow and any cracking or 'slabing' up of the new snow will be key in sussing out wind slabs. Watch for them to be touchy and not bonding well with the crusty conditions underneath. 

For a sense of the expected surface conditions (ah, 'dust-on-crust') - below are shots of yesterday's snow cover that is now mostly frozen with 1-3+?" of light snow on top:

Seattle Ridge - snowmachine 'up-track'              NW ridge and face of Magnum                          SW terrain on Tincan

Avalanche Problem 2

On slopes lucky enough to receive over a few inches of snow you'll likely find it easy to initiate predictable and low volume dry sluffs.

**Later in the day, if the sun is able to warm the new snow watch for roller-balling from rocks/trees/alders/etc. If the sun is intense enough, these could turn into decent size wet snow sluffs and something to be aware of if you are in confined terrain such as gullies. Damp/wet snow sluffs can push a person around much more than the dry variety that should be present earlier in the day.



Mountain Weather

Yesterday's partly cloudy skies, light winds and warm temperatures (30-40deg F) continued to melt out the existing snow cover. Overnight however, cloud cover moved back in and snow began to fall as cold air slides in from the Northwest and collides with a warm and weak low pressure to our South - finally a little re-fresher!

Snowfall estimates as of 6am this morning are below. The go-to Turnagain Pass and Summit SNOTEL sites are not reporting this morning so estimates are a bit rough. But, you can watch the lighted snow stake loop on the RWIS Turnagain Pass site for an idea.

Turnagain Pass:  3"
Summit Lake:  0"
Girdwood Valley:  3-4"

It looks like we should get another 1-3" of very low density snow on top of this throughout the day along with patches of sunshine. Temperatures should continue to drop to around 10F on the ridge tops and to the low 20'sF at 1,000' - snow to sea level. Winds will remain mostly light to moderate (10-15mph) and switch from the Northwest to a Northeast direction with gusts to 20mph.

Beginning tonight, a return to clear skies and mild weather is in store as another high pressure builds and extends through the remainder 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: Dec 18, 2018 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease stay on trail to avoid resource damage through Forested areas.
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed November 21 due to inadequate snow conditions. #hopeforsnow
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease stay on trail to avoid resource damage through Forested areas.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease stay on trail to avoid resource damage through Forested areas.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for the 2018/19 season. Next season will be open to motorized use.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed. Forest Service is monitoring conditions.
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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