Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, January 6th 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 general avalanche danger is LOW in many locations above 2,500’.  The possibility still exists for humans to trigger avalanches 1-3’ deep on very steep slopes and in areas with a shallow snowpack.  In these areas within the Alpine the avalanche danger is MODERATE today.

The danger at treeline is LOW where avalanches are unlikely.

 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

Join us for our final Fireside Chat this Thursday, January 8th, in Anchorage! Topic: Mountain Weather and Snowpack.  CNFAIC forecaster and resident meteorologist Wendy Wagner will be taking a close look at the current state of the snowpack at Turnagain Pass along with a look into "when is it going to snow?".  Cost is $0.

Avalanche Problem 1

We have moved into a time period where buried weak layers have become very difficult to trigger.  Time and settling of the snowpack has allowed layers of buried surface hoar and facets (1-3 feet deep) to adjust and become less reactive.

The makeup, or structure of the snowpack is such that should an avalanche occur there is still potential for entire slopes to release.  Testing of these layers over the past few weeks has shown this potential.  

Slabs that built up on top of these layers have become very strong.  These slabs can withstand a lot of weight and force.  This is another contributing factor to the low likelihood of triggering an avalanche.

Areas where you could trigger an avalanche today include slopes over 40 degrees, convexities and slopes with a shallow snowpack.  The Girdwood Valley and Summit Lake areas have, in general thinner snowpacks than Turnagain Pass.  Thin spots can still be found throughout the forecast area and are worth avoiding.  Given the current hardness of slabs it is important to keep in mind that slabs can break above you and be very difficult to ride or ski off.

If venturing onto steep terrain practice good travel habits:
Expose only one person at a time
Utilize islands of safety for spotting and re-grouping
Identify escape routes in the event of a slab releasing
Communicate route decisions and plans within your group effectively
Be aware of groups above and below you and avoid exposing those groups to avalanche hazard

Mountain Weather

Yesterday was another day of clear and calm conditions.  No new precipitation fell.  Winds were light coming out of the Eastern half of the compass.  Temperatures were on the cold side, with ridgetops in the teens-20’s F and some valley locations remaining in the single digits F under an inversion.

Today will be more of the same.  Temperatures at ridegtops will be in the 20s F and some valleys will remain in the single digits.  Winds will be light out of the East at 5-10mph.

The ridge of high pressure that is currently parked over much of mainland Alaska looks to begin breaking down by Wednesday night.  Clouds, warming temps and precipitation will move in as we near the weekend.

*Sunburst data is 3pm-6am due to temporary station malfunction

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 21 0 0 33
Summit Lake (1400') 3 0 0 6
Alyeska Mid (1700') 21 0 0 25


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 22 ESE 4 11
Seattle Ridge(2400') 19 E 9 20

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: Oct 05, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed. Will be open for the 2019/20 season pending adequate snow cover.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed

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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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