Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, February 8th 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 Turnagain Pass region continues to have a LOW avalanche danger. The exceptions are areas that saw strong wind on Friday, such as the Girdwood Valley, where finding and triggering a lingering wind slab may be possible. These slabs are likely shallow (4-6" thick), hard and pose the greatest threat in steep and rocky "no fall" terrain.

 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
  • Attention Ladies: SheJumps, CNFAIC, and Alyeska Resort are joining forces to host a 2 hour avalanche companion rescue clinic at Alyeska Resort on Sunday, Feb.8 from 1pm-3pm. This is a free clinic for ladies only, and is a great place to practice your beacon skills. Click HERE for more info.

Avalanche Problem 1

With over three weeks now of nearly no precipitation, our snowpack is old, tired and slowing being eaten away by cold and clear weather. Impressive surface hoar sits over faceted snow at the mid elevations while the upper elevations are a combination of several inches of faceted snow with varying degrees of older wind crusts. The good news is, there is a pattern change on the doorstep! We have warm and moist southerly flow on tap this coming week. The question is, how much precipitation will make it over the mountains from the Sound to our area? 

For those getting out today, we do have a few surface instabilities to watch out for:

Wind Slabs
Keep an eye out for stiff and shallow wind slabs formed by Friday's strong winds, mainly in the Girdwood Valley area. Although these are expected to be relatively small, they are likely to be sitting on weak faceted snow and hard enough to allow a person onto one before it pops out. Seeking out the softer non-wind affected snow will be key for not only good turns, but avoiding one of these pockets as well.

Shallow sluffs on steep slopes, over 40 degrees, should be expected. These continue to be generally low volume and fairly slow moving.

Although the "ski/rideable" snow line remains high (1,500' or so), there are still good turns to be salvaged! Most of Turnagain Pass was spared by the winds on Friday. Seattle Ridge is one of the windier spots at the Pass and still sports a couple inches of loose snow on the ridge proper. (Photo looking South, taken by Andy Moderow)

Mountain Weather

Yesterday saw our first cloudy day in over a week. Light Easterly flow ushered in mid-level clouds along with very cold temperatures, single digits on the ridgetops that matched the frigid valley bottom temperatures hovering around 0F. Overnight, a rebound in temperature has begun as warmer air is on its way from the East. 

For today we can expect mostly cloudy skies with a few blue holes here and there. We may even see a few snowflakes make it out of the clouds. Winds should remain light (5-10mph) from the East with some stronger gusts on the peaks. Temperatures in valley bottoms will remain in the 0-10F range today but ridgetops should climb into the mid teens - balmy!

Our next shot at snow, more than just a few flakes, is coming up this week. As the dominant high pressure over mainland Alaska breaks down, a return to warm southerly flow associated with a large area of low pressure in the Gulf will move in. Right now, models are showing the bulk of precipitation to our Southeast, but we can still cross our fingers we will get a fresh coat of paint!


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 31 
Summit Lake (1400') 0
Alyeska Mid (1700') 22.5 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') NE  18 
Seattle Ridge(2400') var  11 

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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