Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, December 1st 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

MODERATE avalanche danger exists in the upper elevations of the advisory area. Human triggered avalanches may be possible in steep, wind-loaded terrain above 2500’. Practice safe travel techniques and ease into terrain one at a time, look for signs of instability before committing to steep slopes greater than 35 degrees.

Below 2500’ the danger is LOW where the snowpack is freezing after being saturated over the past several week.

 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.
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

Fireside Chats are back!  Join CNFAIC Forecaster Heather Thamm this Wednesday Dec. 2nd in Anchorage at the Blue and Gold Boardshop for our first Fireside chat as she discusses terrain and route selection.  More information on our calendar page HERE.

Outside of advisory area AVALANCHE CONDITIONS update:

Due to avalanche danger and on going search and rescue efforts for a missing skier, the East Hatcher Pass Management Area is closed to public use until further notice. For current information visit DNR Newsroom and

Avalanche Problem 1

Upper elevation slopes that harbor dry and crust-free snow after Thanksgiving's onslaught are the areas most suspect for triggering an avalanche. These slopes are also where most of us are looking to ride and sit at elevations over 2,500'. If you are headed out today (we may see clearing skies...?) there are two things to keep in mind:

1-  A bump in wind from the Northeast last night may have created shallow wind slabs just off the ridgelines. These should be easy to identify by keeping an eye on the surface texture and looking for areas of stiff wind deposited snow. Quick hand pits can help assess the reactivity of any slabs found.

2-  In general we have little information for terrain over 3,000'. What we do know is 2-4' of 'Thanksgiving' snow sits on top a variety of old surfaces, one of these being a layer of small facets near the ground. With the lack of natural avalanche activity during last week's storm cycle and snow pits showing stable snow at 3,000', plus four days now since the end of the storm, all signs point to a stabilizing pack. However, caution is still warranted as an avalanche breaking in the facets near the ground would be large. Don't forget your safe travel practices if venturing onto steep committing terrain, namely, only expose one person at a time and watch your partners carefully.

Terrain below 2,500':

Rain that fell last week has now frozen and a crust exists under 2-6" of new snow; dust-on-crust riding conditions. Freezing of the snowpack has stabilized these lower elevations. We did get a report yesterday of a large avalanche that was spotted in the Tincan Trees area - suspected start zone is above treeline and under the CFR ridgeline (2,500'). The slide is suspected to have occurred sometime late Sunday or early Monday. If you have any information about this avalanche please let us know!

Photo below of the CFR avalanche (credit: Ray Koleser).


Mountain Weather

Cloudy skies covered the region yesterday and instability showers dropped a few more inches of snow above 1,000'; light 'freezing' rain at sea level. Winds were light from the NE and temperatures remained mild.

Overnight, winds picked up slightly from the Northeast with averages in the 10-20mph range and a peak gust at Sunburst of 41mph. These have decreased this morning. Temperatures continue to be mild (ridgetop mid-20's F), yet cooler air has just begun filtering in from the Northeast. We may see a few more instability showers again today intermixed with clearing skies.

Another shot for a few inches of snow will come tomorrow as a pulse of moisture is pushed in by a low-pressure system in the Gulf.


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 29  0.2 24 
Summit Lake (1400') 30  10 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 32  0.1  17 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 24   ENE 13  41 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 24 N/A  N/A  N/A 

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.

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