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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Thursday, March 5th 2015
Created: Mar 5th 6:30 am
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'
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Our NEW OBSERVATION PAGE is up and running!  Please check out the new format and consider submitting a snowpack or avalanche observation on your next day in the mountains.  We are always looking for more info and photos to help paint a better picture of avalanche hazards across south central Alaska!


The Bottom Line

Much of the terrain in the Turnagain Pass area has a LOW avalanche danger where triggering an avalanche will be unlikely. However, there are areas in the Alpine zones (above 2,500') that continue to have a MODERATE danger and triggering a slab avalanche 1-2' thick is not out of the question. These areas are most likely to be found in the "steeps" - steep rocky terrain with unsupported slopes as well as steep gullies and rollovers. Avoiding lingering wind slabs in these areas will also hedge your bets.


Primary Concern

As most of us know, the mountains around Turnagain Pass are in much need of a refresher (snow to the road is yet another story). However, there is winter up high and Tuesday night we received a welcome 2-3" of moist snow above 2,500', which has improved riding conditions. In the big picture, it has been almost three weeks since our last significant precipitation event and avalanche cycle with the last of our avalanche activity ending 10 days ago. Since then, we have been monitoring a buried layer of weak faceted snow, weak snow surrounding sun crusts on Southerly aspects and wind slabs. All of these snowpack concerns are in the top 2' or so of the pack and continue to show reactivity in pits in some areas but not all. What all this boils down to is, we are still concerned that someone could trigger a slab avalanche in the steep, more extreme, terrain above 2,500'.

Things to keep in mind today if visibility allows for travel in steep terrain:

1)  Safe travel protocol - one person at a time on a slope, watch your partners, have an escape route planned if the snow moves.

2)  No signs of instability are likely to be present, but that doesn't mean the snowpack on the slope you are hitting is stable or the wind drift is locked into place.

 

Photos below are of Tincan yesterday in low light where 2-3" of new damp snow covered old tracks and provided some fun carvey riding conditions!

   


Mountain Weather

Overcast skies, mild temperatures and calm winds greeted backcountry travelers yesterday. The clouds just started to part at the end of the day as the low-pressure system that put down a few inches of new snow Tuesday moved out.

We should see a break from our warm temperatures after today as a cold front slides through Southcentral later tonight. Until then, partly cloudy skies and valley fog will remain through the day with temperatures in the upper 20'sF on the ridgetops and the upper 30'sF at 1,000'. Ridgetop winds will be 5-10mph from the East with a flurry or two that could be squeezed out of the clouds.

Beginning tomorrow, cold air slides in from the Northwest associated with a large-scale trough currently over the Bering. You can see this in the IR satellite image - the cold front is just passing through Western AK this morning - exciting news. Along with the colder air will be the chance for snow to sea level. This flow direction is not ideal for Turnagain Pass as opposed to Hatcher Pass, who could see a bit of snow. Stay tuned on how this pattern change will develop for the weekend! And, if you are headed North this weekend remember to check out Hatcher Pass's Saturday AM advisory.

 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 33  40 
Summit Lake (1400') 34 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 35  24 

 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 26   5 18 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 28  n/a   10 17 

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: Mar 15, 2017 )

AREA STATUS WEATHER AND RIDING CONDITIONS
Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: Open
Skookum Drainage: OpenSkookum drainage closes to motorized use on April 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: Open
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for 2016/17 winter season. This is a non-motorized season. This alternates every other year and will open again during the 2017/18 winter.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
Summit Lake: Open

Subscribe to the Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory:

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.


USFS SNOW AND AVALANCHE HOTLINE (907) 754-2369
If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email staff@chugachavalanche.org
© 2017 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.
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