Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 3rd 2015 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 MODERATE on steep slopes in the alpine today.  Dense slabs up to 3’ in depth, if triggered, have the potential to injure or bury a person.  Pockets of old wind slab, 8-10” in depth also have the potential to knock a person off their feet and could be triggered in very steep upper elevation terrain.

At treeline the avalanche danger is LOW, where mostly stable snow exists.  Keep in mind that LOW does not mean NO.  Utilize good travel habits when entering avalanche terrain.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
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'
Special Announcement

The CNFAIC Avalanche Rescue Workshop scheduled for January 4th has been postponed due to minimal snow coverage at the parking lot level in Turnagain Pass. The workshop has been rescheduled for January 18th. Check our calendar for up to date info.

Avalanche Problem 1

Dense slabs are spread across the forecast zone.  These slabs are strong and can support a lot of weight.  Underlying these slabs are a variety of weak layers.  The most widespread of these layers is buried surface hoar, roughly 2’ down and found above 2,500’.  We currently have a snowpack structure that shows some potential for slab avalanches.

On the plus side the strength of the slab in most areas is high, making it difficult to trigger an avalanche.  Time and settling has allowed the buried weak layers to adjust to the slabs resting over them.  While the likelihood of triggering an avalanche is on the low end of the scale, our tests continue to show us that propagation is still possible across slopes.

The best way to stay out of trouble today is to avoid suspected trigger points.  These points are found on steep (>40 degree) rollovers and in areas where the snow is shallow.  It is in these areas where it is easier for a person or group to impact the weak layer.

Avalanche Problem 2

Dense wind slabs formed over the early part of this past week.  These slabs (4-10" thick) are generally well bonded to the surfaces below.  However, it is worth keeping an eye out for the occasional pocket of stiff old wind slab, especially in very steep terrain.  Jumping on steep rollovers on small test slopes is the best way to assess this avalanche concern.  If venturing into more committing terrain, have an escape route in mind before moving over these slabs and be ready to ski or ride off of them.

With navigating around both of these avalanche concerns, continue to practice good travel habits.  In steep terrain expose only one person at a time.  Use islands of safety for re grouping.  Have escape routes planned should an avalanche occur.  Have a plan and communicate well within your group.  Be mindful of and minimize exposure to groups below you.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday brought clear skies and more winter like temperatures to the area.  Ridgetop winds were light out of the East/Northeast.  Temps were in the teens to low 20s F.  No new precipitation was recorded.

Today expect clouds and the occasional flurry this morning to give way to clear skies by the end of the day.  Winds will be light out of the North at 5-10 mph.  Temperatures will be on the decline, averaging in the 20s F at ridgetop level and dipping into the single digits F tonight.

High pressure will take hold over mainland Alaska for the next several days.  This weather pattern will bring clear skies, cold temps and no precipitation.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 22 0 0 34
Summit Lake (1400') 16 0 0 7
Alyeska Mid (1700') 23 0 0 25


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 18 var 7 20
Seattle Ridge(2400') 19 E 7 25

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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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