Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Friday, January 16th 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 at and above treeline.

Between 1,500 and 2,500' humans could trigger wet loose avalanches in steep terrain.  Avoidance of steep terrain in this elevation band will be important today.

Wind slabs 1 foot in depth could also be triggered on steep leeward terrain above 2,500'.  Slab depths could be as much as 2 feet in isolated pockets.

Glide avalanches remain a concern as well today.

 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.
2 Moderate Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
Special Announcement

The CNFAIC Avalanche Rescue Workshop schedule for January 18th has been canceled due to lack of snow at the parking lot level in Turnagain Pass. The next hands-on rescue workshop is scheduled for Saturday February 7th.  Please check our calendar for up to date info.

Avalanche Problem 1

Rain and warm temps over the last week have weakened the snowpack up to 2,500’ in elevation.  Wet loose avalanches will be easiest to trigger on slopes over 35 degrees today.  This is a manageable problem, in that it is relatively easy to recognize when you are in this snowpack; your skis or board will sink well below the surface and the snow will be unsupportable.  When you find yourself in this snowpack set up avoid steep terrain.  This becomes more important if and when you are traveling above terrain traps, such as gullies, trees, cliff bands or creek bottoms.  Getting swept into these kinds of features will amplify the consequences of being caught in a wet loose avalanche today.

Avalanche Problem 2

Above 3,000’ mostly snow has fallen of late.  Slabs generally around 1 foot in depth with deeper pockets (up to 2 feet) could be triggered on steep leeward slopes today.  Assessing how well the new snow is bonding can be done with quick hand pits and will help in understanding the potential for a wind slab to release.  Performing stability tests will give you more information in helping to anticipate the potential for triggering.   These slabs will be somewhat difficult to trigger but have the potential to entrain additional snow once moving downhill, especially closer to the line where wet loose avalanches are a concern.

Additional Concern

Glide avalanche activity seemed to take a break yesterday.  Glides have been observed on many slopes around Turnagain Pass and are worth steering clear of.  This is not a manageable problem, as glide avalanche release is very difficult to anticipate and the volume of these slabs is high enough to injure and bury a person.  Avoidance of terrain showing glide cracks is recommended for the foreseeable future.

Mountain Weather

Temperatures have remained mild over the past 24 hours with freezing levels remaining around the 2,000’ mark.  The rain/snow line has fluctuated between 2,500’ and 2,000’, with snow accumulation in the 3-4” range.  The Turnagain Pass DOT/RWIS station reported .6” of H20 in the past 24 hours.  Ridge top winds have been moderate out of the East at 25 mph.

Today expect more of the same, as a Low centered over Bristol bay will spin and draw moisture and warm air from the South.  Rain will fall at sea level.  The rain/snow line will be around 1,500’-2,000’. New snow amounts will be in the 2-3” range above 2,000’.  Winds will be out of the Southeast at 20-30 mph.

The extended outlook is calling for a continuation of above average temperatures and showery conditions through the weekend.  Temps will cool slightly as cold air tries to nudge its way towards the area.

* Alyeska Mid station data is from 6am - 3pm due to station being down.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 34 0 .4 28
Summit Lake (1400') 33 0 .1 5
Alyeska Mid (1700') 36* 0* .5* 18*


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 26 E 25 70
Seattle Ridge(2400') 29 VAR 16 84

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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