Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, January 7th 2015 7:00 am by Heather Thamm
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Today the avalanche danger is LOW with areas of MODERATE danger in the Alpine above 2500'. Triggering an avalanche 1-3’ deep remains possible in very steep terrain and where the snowpack is shallow. Evaluate the snow and terrain before choosing to ski a steep slope.

At treeline triggering an avalanche is unlikely, therefore the danger is LOW.

 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

Support your local avalanche center by making a donation to The Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center with Pick, Click, Give. The F-CNFAIC is a community supported non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing avalanche awareness in Southcentral Alaska through information, outreach, and partnership. Click HERE to make a donation and read about future projects the F-CNFAIC is working towards. 


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

A large wind event last week has left the slopes scoured on ridges with hard-pack snow conditions above 2500’. This densely settled snow combined with time has added to the strength of the slab by making it supportable and difficult to trigger a buried weak layer below. In general normal caution is advised with the exception of very steep slopes.

Some uncertainty still exists in terrain steeper than 40° and where the snowpack is thinner. The current structure of the snowpack is a 1-3’ slab sitting on a weak layer, and there remains some potential on specific features for a slab to propagate Avoid shallow areas of the snowpack, especially near rocks and steep convex rollovers.

In places like Girdwood and Summit Lake where the snowpack is thinner– triggering a layer of buried surface hoar or facets could be more likely. In these areas consider keeping your slope angles even lower.

If you choose to ski a steep slope identify features of concern and the consequences below you. Practice safe travel techniques like exposing one person at time, communicating route decisions, and always be aware of groups above and below you.



Over the last week new surface hoar growth has been widely documented and something to be aware of heading into our next warm storm cycle. A big thanks to everyone submitting observations this winter!

Surface hoar formation this week at 2000' in the Girdwood Valley 

Photo Credit: Kyle Bates

Mountain Weather

Over the last few days skies have been clear and an inversion has brought single digit F temps to valley floors with ridgetops in the mid 20’s F. Overnight Eastern winds have been light with no new precipitation.

Temperatures are expected to increase into the low 30’s F today as a low-pressure system approaches from Southeast Alaska. Winds will be out of the East 10-20mph. We may see a trace of new snow tonight, but it is more likely to be in the form of freezing rain at sea level.

Overnight and into tomorrow warm air will continue to override the cool surface air in Southcentral Alaska increasing the likelihood of freezing rain at lower elevations. Temps could be as high as the mid 30’s F at sea level with lows in the 20's F at ridgetops. Winds are expected to be moderate from the East. 

It is uncertain how much precipitation this warm air mass could bring, but it looks like lower elevation temperatures will remain warm (mid-high 30’s F) into the weekend. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880')  24 33 
Summit Lake (1400')  12  6
Alyeska Mid (1700') 22  25 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 23  30 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 23  Var  29 

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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