Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Thursday, March 12th 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 zone has a LOW avalanche danger. If you are headed to the steeps, pockets of MODERATE danger can be found in steep rocky and complex terrain for lingering wind slabs large enough to knock a person off their feet. Additionally, sluffs are becoming larger and faster on slopes over 40 degrees. Don't forget to watch your sluff!

 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

Avalanche Problem 1

Lingering wind slabs from the strong Northwest winds earlier this week are littered about the mountains. They can be found to be a few inches thick to a foot thick. They vary from stiff and supportable to breakable and in some areas, still on the softer side. These slabs are a concern in steep complex terrain where even a small plate can knock you off your feet and pitch you somewhere you don't want to go. One of my partners triggered one of these old pockets yesterday (a soft old wind slab ~10" thick and 20' wide in steep terrain photo below).

Avalanche Problem 2

Sluffs are VERY easy to trigger in steep terrain harboring loose surface snow. These are running faster and farther each day as the snow is becoming looser and looser with the cold weather. Sluff management is key. This means know where your sluff will go and stay out of the way of the debris. The volume of these sluffs is on the moderate side but, still plenty to washing-machine someone if caught on a sustained slope.

SEE VIDEO HERE.  Photo above by John Sykes: Sluffs triggered in the Gold Pan basin yesterday (behind the Magnum and Cornbiscuit ridges and near the top of Bertha Creek)


As Heather mentioned yesterday, there is some great skiing and riding to be had at the Pass. Honing in on the dappled surface texture (or orange peel as some say) to suss out the soft snow works well. Also, despite the continued hazardous approaches from the parking lots, there is now a "Tincan Rappel" which makes accessing the goods on Tincan easier - thanks to the helpful citizen for the installation!

Mountain Weather

Yesterday brought another round of sunny, cold and beautiful weather. Temperatures were right around 0F from the parking lot to the ridgetops.

For today, we should have the same sunny skies and cold temperatures. In fact, the Sunburst weather station has just recorded the lowest temperature for this season at 3am, -6F (runner up is -3F on January 25th). There is slight inversion in place with minus single digits in valley bottoms. Temps should rise to the teens at 1,000' but stay near 0F on the ridgelines. The Northwest winds should remain in the 5-10mph range on the ridgelines today and may pick up a hair later this afternoon into the 15mph range.

Our next shot of snow (and warmer temperatures) is on Sunday and Monday. Until then, enjoy the sunshine!

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 43 
Summit Lake (1400') 9
Alyeska Mid (1700') 28 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') -2  18 
Seattle Ridge(2400') n/a  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: 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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