Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, February 1st 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

A generally LOW avalanche danger continues in the Turnagain Pass and surrounding regions. Shallow dry sluffs in steep terrain should be expected on West, North and East aspects while southerly aspects may warm enough for easily initiated damp sluffs. Also, watch for shallow wind slabs, that may have formed by a bump in Easterly wind yesterday at the high elevation ridgelines.

 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
  • Seeking the steeps today?! Headed to Turnagain? Or maybe North with your sled or to Hatcher Pass? If yes, consider tracking your route and being part of a nation-wide research project that needs more Alaska input!! Snowmachiners click HERE. Skiers/Boarders HERE. 

Avalanche Problem 1

Another day of brilliant sunshine, warm ridgetop temperatures and mostly LOW avalanche danger will bring in the first day of Fabulous February. Believe it or not, during the last couple days of January the sun was just strong enough, and winds calm enough, to form a sun crust on some steep Southerly slopes. Yes, already! This is not the case everywhere, but heads up when choosing to brave the alders and low snow hazards in search of those sunlit slopes. We do have a few surface instabilities to watch out for today. These are:

Loose Snow Avalanches:
On steep slopes, > 40 degrees, watch your sluff. Dry sluffs on the shady aspects should be relatively shallow and manageable. The damp sluff variety on South aspects however, is more concerning; mainly do to the heavier character of the debris. It is warm at the upper elevations currently (33F at Sunburst) and today on sunny slopes out of the wind, watch for the snow to become damp and event wet. Steep chutes and gullies baking in the sun would be the best place to get a sizeable damp sluff moving.

Wind Slabs and Cornices:
Shallow wind slabs may be found off ridgelines to the East and South of Turnagain Pass. Plumes by a slight bump in Easterly winds yesterday were noted by one observer in the Kickstep and Lipps areas.

*If you are taking advantage of the increasing daylight and venturing far from the road to more remote areas, say on a supertour, remember there is always the chance for finding a wind slab, triggering a cornice fall or stumbling onto some other type of unstable snow. Not being complacent and keeping with safe travel practices will hedge your bets in the mountains, a good general rule for all of us to follow.

Surface Conditions?
Although the avalanche danger has not changed for weeks, the snow sure has. The top 2-6+" of the snow surface has been undergoing quite an impressive near surface faceting phase. This is not an issue now, as it all sits on the surface, but has the potential for becoming a significant weak layer in the future. For this to happen it has to snow of course; not rain or be blown to Prince William Sound. For now however, it is supplying some great recrystallized powder (aka, ‘loud powder’, ‘square powder’, etc.) for those making the trek to the higher elevations. (Check out this great photo sent in yesterday of the snow surface and its varying surface layers as well as our write up HERE.)

Sun crust. Believe it or not.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday was marked by clear skies and mostly calm winds - except for Sunburst that had gusty Easterly winds into the 20's mph. Temperatures climbed to the low 30's F to the ridgetops and have remained there overnight.

hefty inversion is in place this morning along with valley fog. Temperatures are chilly, 5-15F along the Seward Highway, and rise to a balmy 33F at Sunburst (3,812') and 32F at Penguin (4,200' in elevation). Another blue sky day is on tap with light Easterly winds. 

The entrenched area of high pressure over Alaska looks to persist through the week. Our next chance for precipitation is on the distant horizon. Models are hinting at the ridge breaking down and allowing low pressure to move in possibly by next weekend.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 29  31 
Summit Lake (1400') 18  7
Alyeska Mid (1700') 29  21 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 31  27 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 29  var 

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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