Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, December 2nd 2015 7:00 am by Heather Thamm
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Over the last few days avalanche stability in Turnagain Pass has been trending towards low danger, however with limited information and incremental loading a MODERATE avalanche danger still exists in the Alpine. Human triggered avalanches may be possible in steep 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 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 tonight, 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:

Avalanche conditions still remain a concern in Hatcher Pass, and it may take road crews several more days before the East Hatcher Pass Management Area can be re-opened. Search efforts for a missing skier have been temporarily suspended until conditions are safer for ground teams to continue. Visit for current information on Hatcher Pass conditions and click HERE to read the most current article on search efforts. 

Avalanche Problem 1

Over the last few days we have received incremental amounts of snow (5+”) and another 3-5” is expected today. Should snowfall become heavy and/or ridgetop winds pick up beyond the anticipated 10-20mph, be on the lookout for signs of instability. Plain and simple, if you observe any redflags (recent avalanches, shooting cracks, or hear “whumphing” sounds) choose gentle slope angles. 

No new signs of instability have been observed over the past five days since a wet warm storm dumped an upwards of 4' of heavy snow in upper elevations around Girdwood and Turnagain Pass. In general snowpack conditions have been stabilizing gradually and lots of high quality powder can be found. Caution is advised if poking into steeper terrain, especially on Northern aspects where it can be difficult to assess the snowpack due to generally higher consequence terrain, like cliffs, rocks, and badness.

Remember to always practice safe travel rituals on steep slopes, namely, only expose one person at a time, watch your partners carefully, and regroup in safe zones.

Snow coverage may still be thin near road level, but considering its early December Turnagain Pass is looking good!

Additional Concern

Yesterday’s visibility finally allowed for a good look around Turnagain Pass to see some of the aftermath of our last storm. Debris was observed in some of the usual paths, but lots of steep terrain did not avalanche during this last cycle.

On leeward aspects where the snowpack is deep, over 4’ thick, stability is suspected to be pretty good, but there is still little known about windward aspects above 3000’, where the snowpack could be thinner. 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. Again, caution is warranted in steep terrain, as an avalanche breaking in the facets near the ground would be large.

Mountain Weather

Light showery conditions have been the theme of the last 5 days. Winds have been light to moderate; mostly from the East/Northeast and temperatures have been mild, ranging from the mid 20Fs to low 30Fs.

Overnight 1” of new snow has fallen in Turnagain Pass and 2” in upper elevations around Girdwood. Temperatures have increased slightly into the low 30Fs at ~1000’. Winds have remained light out of the East/Northeast.

Today snow showers are expected to bring 3-5” of new snow to the upper elevations near Girdwood and Turnagain Pass. Temperatures may increase above 32F, causing a mix of rain and snow for lower elevations. Easterly winds are expected to be 10-20mph near ridgetops. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 28F  0.1  25 
Summit Lake (1400') 25F  0.2 12 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 28F  0.2 13 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 24F  NE  25 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 24F  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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