Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 29th 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

There is a MODERATE avalanche danger today at all elevations and aspects. With 5-7" of new snow and moderate Easterly winds in the forecast above 2,500', fresh wind slab avalanches will be possible to trigger on windloaded slopes over 35 degrees. These slabs are expected to be in the 8-12" thick range. Additionally, wet loose avalanches are possible on steep (> 40 degree) slopes below 2,500'. Lastly, cornices are growing by the day and minimizing time underneath them and avoiding walking on them is key.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
2 Moderate Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
2 Moderate Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
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Avalanche Problem 1

Today begins the 4th day of stormy weather across the Eastern Turnagain Arm. During this time, Turnagain Pass has seen around 3' of new snow above 2,500', wet snow below and rain at the parking lots. The last pulse of moisture was Friday night, adding 6-8" of new snow. Moderate Easterly winds yesterday loaded leeward slopes and we had a report of one person caught in an 8" thick slab in the Tincan area, along the ridgeline (just West of Common Bowl). If anyone has information regarding this please pass it on HERE, much appreciated!

Wind slabs will again be the main concern for the upper elevations today. With 5-7" of new snow and moderate Easterly winds, fresh slabs should be expected and likely in the 8-12" range. These could also be thicker if a lingering wind slab from yesterday releases. In general, the new snow this week has been stabilizing relatively quickly, however if you catch a slab while or just after it forms, expect it to be reactive and possibly take you for a ride. Feeling for an "upside-down" nature in the top 1-2' of the snowpack (stiffer snow over softer snow) will be a good clue for sussing out slabs. This can be done with quick hand pits, poking your pole in the snow and walking off the skin track.

Avalanche Problem 2

Depending on where the rain/snow line is today will determine where wet avalanches will be expected. There was little natural wet activity yesterday and with temperatures similar, if not a bit cooler, we should see little again today. However, human triggered wet loose avalanches (push-a-lanches) were easy to initiate on steep slopes below 2,000'. Something to keep in mind on exiting through mid-elevation terrain; for example, the lower steep section of Magnum's West Face.

Small wet loose avalanche triggered in steep mid-elevation terrain (~2,000').

Additional Concern

Cornices have grown significantly over the last week.  Steer clear of cornices and always know where the cornice begins and the underlying terrain ends.  Pick routes on the way up that minimize time spent beneath these features.

Mountain Weather

Overcast skies and poor visibility were over most of the region yesterday. Light snowfall added just an inch or so to the 8" of new snow observed at the upper elevations Saturday morning. Ridgetop winds were in the 15-20mph range from the East and Northeast while temperatures were mild, mid 30's F at 1,000' and upper 20's F around 3,000'.

Today, another round of precip is on tap. The Developmental Eastern Turnagain Arm Forecast is calling for .65" of water which equates to around 5-7" of new medium density snow at the upper elevations; we might not see quite this much at Turnagain. The rain/snow line should be ~800-1,000' with temperatures in the mid 20's F on the ridgetops. Ridgetop winds are expected to be 20-30 mph with stronger gusts from the East and Northeast.

For the next several days we will continue to be in this unsettled weather pattern. Which in short is a series of small low pressure centers rotating around a broad area of low pressure in the North Pacific. How much precipitation and wind will be associated with each disturbance is hard to predict, but nonetheless, the snowpack is growing above 1,500'! (This pattern can be seen on this cool Navy satellite loop - it shows visible images during the day and infrared during the night.)


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 32   1 0.2  60 
Summit Lake (1400') 35   trace 0.1  11 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 34   0 0.01  32


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 24  15   41
Seattle Ridge(2400') 23  n/a   37

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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