Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, January 27th 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

Most terrain in the Eastern Turnagain Arm region has a LOW avalanche danger where triggering an avalanche will be unlikely. The exception is in the periphery zones such as Girdwood Valley, Portage Valley and Summit Lake where stiff wind slabs, formed by a bump in Northwest winds over the weekend, may be found in exposed areas.

 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'
Avalanche Problem 1

Although a skiff of snow is expected for the Anchorage area today, we continue to be snow-starved of late. The last significant precipitation to hit the Turnagain Pass region was 12 days ago now and with cold temperatures and generally light winds, the snowpack has adjusted into mostly strong and stable snow. However, there are a couple surface instabilities and other hazards to watch for if you are headed out for a day in the backcountry.

Surface Instabilities:

- Wind slabs
Over the weekend, Northwest winds blew enough in specific channeled terrain to build stiff and touchy wind slabs; Turnagain Pass itself, however, largely escaped the winds. We found several older wind slabs in the mid-elevation band in the Girdwood Valley yesterday. Keep an eye out for stiff hollow feeling snow and cracking and/or collapsing. These hard wind slabs can be triggered from below - so if found, managing your terrain to move around them will be key.

- Loose snow avalanches
The top several inches of the snowpack is becoming weaker and looser by the day with our cold weather. Triggering sluffs on steep terrain (> 40 degrees) should be expected and easily managed, as long as you are aware of them.

Other hazards found in the mountains:

- Low snow cover
At elevations below 2,000' beware of hooking alders, hitting rocks, slipping on ice, etc.

- Glide avalanches
Glide cracks continue to litter the landscape and despite the cold temperatures, are still slowly opening. We have not heard of, or seen, a glide release for almost a week now. If you happen to see one - you'll know because the bed surface will be very dark - let us know!

Mountain Weather

During the past 24-hours we have seen partly cloudy skies and a slow rise in temperature. At all elevations temperature has risen from the single digits to the low teens. Ridgetop winds, that were in the 10mph range form the East yesterday, are light and variable this morning. The last precipitation was 2" of low density snow three days ago.

We should see a nice day in the backcountry today with mostly clear skies and temperatures hovering between 10 and 20F at all elevations. Ridgetop winds are forecast to be light and variable.

Tomorrow, cloud cover looks to increase associated with a large area of low pressure that is spinning South of the Aleutians. However, the entrenched high pressure over mainland Alaska will keep most of the low from reaching our neighborhood. Yet, models are hinting at a chance we might see an embedded disturbance bring snow later this week. Stay tuned.


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 12  31 
Summit Lake (1400')
Alyeska Mid (1700') 22 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 10  22 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 11 SW  23 

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.

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