Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Thursday, December 4th 2014
Created: Dec 4th 5:46 am
2 Moderate Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is expected to rise to MODERATE today in the Alpine terrain as 3-5" of new snow is forecast accompanied by moderate Easterly winds. In areas with new snow and wind, fresh wind slabs 6-10" in depth will be possible to trigger on leeward slopes off ridgelines and other exposed terrain features. Loose snow sluffs on steep slopes should also be expected in areas seeing new snow. A continued lack of snow cover below treeline results in no rating at this low elevation.

In the event only a trace of new snow falls, watch for old wind slabs in steep exposed terrain. Otherwise, triggering an avalanche will be unlikely.

Primary Concern

There is uncertainty as to how much new snow the Eastern Turnagain Arm will see today. Likely, some areas will get several inches while a couple ridgelines over may see only a trace. In areas seeing several inches or more of new snow, fresh wind slab avalanches will be the main concern. The winds are forecast to average between 15-25mph, which are ideal wind loading speeds. The Seattle Ridge weather station is reading in this range this morning while the Sunburst weather station is quieter (~10mph) with speeds increasing through the day.

The good news is, the warm temperatures (mid 20's F) above treeline will help to stabilize the new snow relatively quickly. Your best bet at triggering an avalanche is to step on a very fresh wind loaded slope. Watch for wind loading in action and areas where the snow is more cohesive and cracking around you. These slabs should be in the 5-10" range and fairly soft.

Below is a look at yesterday's surface. This area, in the Summit Lake region, is quite wind affected, however many areas still harbor soft settled powder.    

Secondary Concern

Dry snow sluffs at the upper elevations are possible while wet, or moist, snow sluffs are possible near treeline. Temperatures look to climb to 32F near treeline, which will moisten any new snow that falls. These should be low volume and something to keep in mind on steep slopes over 40 degrees.

Mountain Weather

Weather yesterday was mostly cloudy with light to moderate Easterly winds. A trace of snow was picked up at Turnagain Pass with the rain/snow line near sea level. Overnight, temperatures have warmed a few degrees to the mid 20'sF on the ridgetops and 30F at treeline. This is associated with a large scale Southeasterly flow that is pumping warm air our way from the South. 

Today, we are expecting a pulse of moisture embedded in the Southerly flow to add 3-5" of new snow with slightly warming temperatures (up to 32F at treeline and the upper 20'sF on the ridgetops). Rain (and maybe a rain/snow mix) is expected at sea level. Winds should remain 15-25mph from the East.

This general pattern is expected to continue into the weekend with off-and-on snow showers above 1,000' and rain below - amounts of snow are uncertain but look to be only a few inches here and there. We could see a break in cloud cover and precipitation tomorrow, Friday.



PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 28  0.1  19 
Summit Lake (1400') 24 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 29  0.1  17 


RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 21  10  30 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 24  NE  15  26 


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: Apr 11, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: OpenWide swaths of open river in the Placer Valley. Travel with extreme caution!
Skookum Drainage: ClosedSKOOKUM DRAINAGE CLOSED TO MOTORIZED USE ON APRIL 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: ClosedClosed for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for 2016/17 winter season. This is a non-motorized season. This alternates every other year and will open again during the 2017/18 winter.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
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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