Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, January 21st 2015 7:00 am by Graham Predeger
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW across the forecast area at all elevations today.  In addition to early season hazards below 1500’, potential cornice fall (on well-traveled ridges) and glide avalanches in the mid-elevations (2,000 – 3,000’) will warrant attention today. 

Soft surface snow on a supportable crust does exist above 2500’, making for fun powder skiing in the upper elevations.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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

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!

Do you ski or snowmachine in Hatcher Pass?  The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center (HPAC) and the Alaska Avalanche School (AAS) are leading an Observer’s Workshop for backcountry enthusiasts who are interested in submitting snow and avalanche observations to the HPAC. More info can be found by clicking here. 

Avalanche Problem 1

Still one of the greater hazards if venturing into the backcountry on skis today is the ingress/ egress to get on snow and then back to your vehicle at the day’s end.  Ice, alder, open water and a general lack of snow below 1,500’ all add up to be the greatest challenge you are likely to encounter in the backcountry today.  Avalanche problems that call for increased awareness and attention today include:

Cornice Fall:

Cornices have grown quite large along some well-traveled ridges in Turnagain pass right now.  Do not trust these backcountry bombs.  Stay well back from corniced ridges and make sure your partners are doing the same.  Every year, cornices catch both professionals and novices’ off-guard as these have a tendency to break much further back on a ridge than you may expect.

Glide avalanches:

Glide cracks are still proving active across the advisory area either further opening up or releasing entirely causing large, destructive avalanches.  Similar to cornices, do not trust a glide crack.  Though moving at a glacial pace, these are totally unpredictable and can release suddenly and without a real trigger.  It’ll be important to continue to limit your time spent underneath any known glide cracks today and for the remainder of the season.

Glide crack below Eddie's ridge is suspected to have released at some point over the last 3-days without any real trigger.  Notice the dark bed surface in the center of the frame, just above the shadow line.  photo: Wendy Wagner

Wind slab:

Any winds above about 20mph will have the potential to build shallow wind slabs today as the surface snow in the upper elevations is ripe for transport.  Pay attention to the surface, if you see any snow being transported from wind, shallow slabs (6” – 8”) are forming on leeward slopes.  

Mountain Weather

Sunny skies dominated the forecast area again yesterday above a shallow layer of valley fog.  The forecasted North winds never really showed up as ridgetop winds averaged in the single digits all day.  Temperatures stayed cool with low 20’s F at ridgetops, cooling off to the mid-teens later in the day at 1,000’ as an inversion began to set up.

Today expect more of the same in terms of clear skies above low-level fog.  Temperatures are inverted this morning with 10 degress F at 1,000’ and 20 degrees F at the top of Sunburst (3800’).  Winds are expected to be light out of the North in the 7 – 15mph range.

I am pleased to report that he National Weather Service is issuing a SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT for “Winter arriving in Southcentral Alaska”.  Confidence is increasing that there will be a significant change in the weather pattern in the form of accumulating snow and dropping temperatures Thursday night and into Friday!


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 19   0  30
Summit Lake (1400') 14   0  0  6
Alyeska Mid (1700') 20   0  0 19 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')  21  WNW  7 17 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 18.4  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: 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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