Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, January 18th 2015 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Pockets of MODERATE avalanche danger continue in the Alpine (above 2,500') for lingering wind slab avalanches. These older wind slabs are roughly 1-2' thick and most likely to be triggered in steep upper elevation start zones - approaching 40 degrees or steeper. A LOW avalanche danger exists at Treeline (1,000-2,500'), where dust-on-crust conditions prevail. The exception will be glide avalanches, which are possible throughout the forecast area below 3,000'. 

Early season conditions remain and are hazards to contend with in the lower and mid elevations. These include rocks, stumps, icy vegetation and open water.

 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 today has been canceled due to lack of snow at the road elevations on Turnagain Pass. The next hands-on rescue workshop is scheduled for Saturday February 7th. Let’s hope this one will be a go!

Mark you calendars for January 23rd when the APU Outdoor Studies Department and Alaska Avalanche School present Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival!! A night of entertainment, raffle prizes and a chance to rekindle our winter stoke is on tap. This is an AAS and F-CNFAIC fundraiser - a great way to support local avalanche education and information. Hope to see you there!

Avalanche Problem 1

Lingering wind slabs formed during last Wednesday and Thursday's storm, along with continued strong Easterly winds on Friday, will be the primary avalanche problem in the backcountry. These slabs are roughly 1-2' thick and composed of hard/dense snow. They are confined to elevations above 3,000' just off ridgelines and in other catchment zones such as cross-loaded gullies. With a dusting of 1-3" of low density snow in the past day and a half, they are likely to be somewhat obscured. They are also likely to be quite stubborn and hard to trigger and will most likely take slope angles approaching 40 degrees or steeper to get them to pop out. 

If you find yourself venturing into high elevation more extreme terrain, remember your safe travel techniques - mainly exposing one person at a time on a slope. These slabs are hard so pole tests may not tell you much. Also, other red flags such as shooting cracks and hollow feeling snow may not be present until it's too late. 

Photo below: Winter has returned, for the time being, above 2,500' - a welcome sight!!

Avalanche Problem 2

Although glide activity appears to be slowing down in the region, cracks are likely still opening and the possibility remains for these to avalanche. The most recent glide avalanche is suspected to be in the past 48 hours. This was in upper Lyon Creek on a West aspect (photo below, taken looking East from Tincan). Most of the activity we have seen has been in the 2,500-3,000’ elevation band and on all aspects. Glide avalanches are unpredictable and are best managed through avoidance, as they can release at anytime. If you are traveling along valley bottoms watch for cracks above and limit your exposure when passing below them.

Most recent suspected glide avalanche in the Turnagain Pass region below:

Mountain Weather

A welcome 2" or so of new snow fell yesterday during the early morning hours above 1,500', which was followed by gradually clearing skies and light Easterly winds. Overnight, we have seen an additional trace of new snow down to 1,000' on Turnagain Pass. Ridgetop winds have remained light from the East while temperatures have stayed cool, mid 20'sF on the ridgelines and 32F at 1,000'.

Today, we can expect intermittent cloud cover and snow showers throughout the Eastern Turnagain Arm zone with the rain/snow line hovering just above sea level. Snow accumulations are expected to be small, around 1". Ridgetop winds should be light and variable and temperatures look to stay in the mid 20's F on Ridgetops and around 34F at 1,000'.

For Monday, we should see the cooler air, light variable winds and partly cloudy skies continue with little to no precipitation. Our next shot at precipitation looks to be Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 30  0.1  30 
Summit Lake (1400') 29  0.2  8
Alyeska Mid (1700') 32  1.5  0.14  18.5


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 24  19 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 27  N/A: Wind sensor is rimed

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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