Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 15th 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

The avalanche danger remains LOW at all elevations in the Turnagain Pass area and surrounding zones. Finding a shallow old wind slab in steep complex terrain or triggering a loose snow sluff on steep slopes remain the only avalanche concerns. This will all change tomorrow as a potent winter storm is moving in!

**The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WATCH beginning tonight and extending through Monday. Avalanche danger will be on a rapid rise late tonight and into Monday along with 8-15+" of snow and strong wind in the forecast. 

 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

Today is the DAY!! Avalanche Rescue Workshop at Hatcher Pass - Join CNFAIC forecasters, HPAC forecasters and Alaska Avalanche School from 11am-12:30pm for a FREE informal rescue workshop. Click HERE for more details. Parking will be at the Gold Mint trailhead-please carpool as parking spaces will fill up fast.


The Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center is an official Pick. Click. Give. organization. When you apply for your PFD please consider supporting your public avalanche center.  Every little bit helps and allows us to provide the best possible service.  Thank you to all of our donors past, present and future!

Avalanche Problem 1

The exciting news for this morning is a dramatic change in the weather pattern and the potential for significant snowfall tomorrow; significant for this season, anyhow. We are looking at 8-15+ inches in the Girdwood and Turnagain Pass areas so stay tuned on tomorrow's advisory. 

Until then, we continue to have minor surface instabilities in the form of old shallow wind slabs and easily triggered loose snow sluffs to worry about in very steep terrain. Otherwise, triggering an avalanche remains unlikely until the new snow starts piling up.

If you are headed out today and the visibility is good enough (clouds are just beginning to stream in from the South) things to keep in mind are:

  • Safe travel practices - exposing one person at time, watching our partners and good communication
  • Having an escape route planned
  • Watching your sluff


In anticipation of snowfall, we have been mapping the surface conditions. Below are the three main types of surface conditions out there. A foot or more of new snow will have a hard time sticking to all these surfaces initially - due to pure rapid loading. However, the areas with loose faceted snow covering a slope will be the most concerning several days post storm. If you head to Turnagain Pass this week, we want to know what you are seeing. Please pass on any observations you have on our new "submit an observation" form - link on the menu bar - thanks in advance!

Current surface conditions:

Loose faceted snow                                           Breakable wind crust                                         Sastrugi and other hard wind affected surfaces

Mountain Weather

Yesterday marked our 7th and final day of clear and COLD weather. Temperatures hovered in the minus single digits at all elevations and winds were light from the West.

Today we have cloudy skies and flurries on tap. At 4am this morning, winds have shifted to the East at the Sunburst weather station associated with a warm front that is moving in ahead of a large-scale low pressure system centered South of the Aleutians. Temperatures are just starting to rise as well with the warm front and should reach the mid 20's F at 1,000' and the upper teens on the ridgetops. The Easterly ridgetop winds should be in the 10-25mph zone before really ramping up late tonight and tomorrow. Only 1-2" of snow is expected this afternoon. 

Precipitation amounts from tonight through Monday night are in the 1-1.5" H20 range; which equates to 10-15+" of snow at the upper elevations. The rain/snow line will start off at sea level and rise through tomorrow to around 500' and possibly as high as 1,000'. 

Warm Southerly flow bringing snow showers to the upper elevations with a rain/snow mix at sea level will continue through the week.


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 43 
Summit Lake (1400') -2  0
Alyeska Mid (1700') 26 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') -6  W 21 
Seattle Ridge(2400') -3  SW  24 

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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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