Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Thursday, January 22nd 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 MODERATE in the alpine. Human triggered wind slabs 4-10” are possible today and into the early evening above 2500’. 

The avalanche danger below 2500’ will remain LOW, but look out for rocks, ice, and dirt which will be extra difficult to see as new snow covers these early season hazards below 1500’.

*It’s also important to note several additional concerns- pay attention to ridgelines with large cornice features and avoid slopes with glide cracks (2000-3000’.) 

 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

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

Today we are expecting 2-4" of new snow above 1000’, with an addtional 3-6" arriving later today and into this evening. This morning ridgetop winds have picked up to 15-25mph from the East and are expected to remain moderate throughout the day. This could be just enough wind and new snow to form tender wind slabs (4-10”) in upper elevations above 2500'.

These wind slabs could be easily triggered on steep features (>35°) like convexities, along gullies, or just below a steep ridgeline. Pay attention to leeward slopes that are loading and make a note of how much snow is falling throughout the day.

Over the last few days’ cold temperatures have been weakening the surface snow by creating near surface facets. 2-6" of poorly bonded snow crystals are sitting on top of a firm bed surface (a dense wind slab at elevations above 3000’ and a melt/freeze crust at lower elevations.) This set up is less than ideal as we go into a storm cycle - depending on how the storm arrives this could be our next weak layer to track in the coming days. 

Avalanche Problem 2

Many cornices have formed along ridgelines in the alpine throughout Turnagain Pass and Girdwood. These large unsupported snow formations are difficult to see sometimes or until you’re too close for comfort. Be aware of areas that have well formed cornices and give them extra space if you plan to travel along a ridgeline.  

Additional Concern

We have been continuing to monitor glide activity over the last week, with the most recent glide avalanche occurring several days ago on the South Face of Eddies. Glide cracks are unpredictable and it can be challenging to understand the exact nature of what triggers a glide to release. It is best to avoid traveling under or on slopes with large crevasse looking cracks. 

Mountain Weather

Yesterday skies were clear, winds were light, 5-10mph, shifting from the East to the West throughout the day.  Valley fog kept temperatures in the single digits (6-10F) at lower elevations with ridgetops reaching low 20’s F.

As of early this morning ridgetop winds have picked up to 15-25mph from the East and temperatures have also started to increase at upper elevations (low 20’sF.) No new precipitation was recorded in the last 24 hours.

Today 2-4” inches of snow is expected this afternoon with an additional 3-6” into the evening. Ridgetop winds are expected to remain moderate (15-20mph) throughout the day with temperatures steadily increasing to 30F.

More snow, up to 6” is forecasted for Friday. Temperatures should remain in the upper 20’sF to low 30’sF and ridgetop winds are expected to be light to moderate. 

*Seattle Ridge wind speed data was unavailable until 4am this morning. The below average/gust/dir are from 4am - 6am today. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 16  30 
Summit Lake (1400')
Alyeska Mid (1700') 15   0 19 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 20  Var  27 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 15  *ENE  *16  *34 

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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