Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, December 9th 2015 7:00 am by CNFAIC Staff
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE in the Alpine.  Winds that blew Monday night into Tuesday morning have created shallow slabs in leeward areas. The most suspect slopes are in steep terrain at the high elevations where the winds have deposited additional snow. 

Look for changing conditions as snow and wind impact the advisory area today and tomorrow.

At Treeline and below the danger is LOW.

*If venturing into the 'periphery' forecast zones, such as Girdwood Valley, Silvertip and Summit Lake areas, more caution is advised due to limited information about the snowpack in these areas.


 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.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Special Announcement

Fireside Chat #2 - Avalanche Rescue - Dec 10th!! Join CNFAIC forecaster Heather Thamm Thursday night from 6:30-8:00pm at the Alaska Avalanche School for a presentation on "Rescue Fundamentals". A successful rescue of a buried individual can hinge on even a little bit of knowledge, we hope to see you there! This class is great introduction if you are new to the topic and a terriffic way to refresh your understanding if you have taken a class before!

Interested in how people make decisions in avalanche terrain? Montana State University's Snow and Avalanche Laboratory, is leading a project they hope will bring about a better understanding of those risk-taking decisions with a smartphone app. Check out yesterday's article in ADN to learn how it works, how you can participate and help collect Alaskan data!

Avalanche Problem 1

The sustained winds from Monday night into Tuesday morning changed the snow conditions in the Alpine. Observers reported pockets of wind slab and scoured ridgelines. While traveling today look for areas that have had recent loading and avoid stiff snow in steep terrain. Watch for cracking and listen for hollow sounds that could indicate the shallow wind slabs may be reactive. 

The Turnagain Pass area received an inch of snow yesterday and more is forecasted for today and tonight. Pay attention to changing conditions and expect avalanche danger to increase as we load up the weak surface snow that formed during the period of high pressure and low danger. 

What has changed or is changing? These should be the questions in the next few days. Look for Red Flags: recent avalanches, cracking, whumfing, recent snowfall and signs of recent wind. These signs of instability indicate heightened avalanche danger and the need for cautious travel behavior. 

Good travel habits, such as exposing one person at a time, watching your partners, grouping up in safe zones and having an escape route planned are, as always, key ways to minimize risk. 

Wind effect and rime crust on Big Chief. Photo: Billy Finley

Mountain Weather

The low in the Gulf is impacting the forecast area today. Skies will be cloudy with snow showers likely throughout the day. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is possible. Highs will be in the mid 20Fs to upper 30Fs. Winds will be variable from the North. 

Snow will continue tonight with an addtional 3-6 inches possible. There is more unsettled weather and snow on tap for later in the week as the pattern continues to push a series of lows into the region. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 27   1 .1   23
Summit Lake (1400')  25  0 11 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 24   0  0  18


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 26   NE 22 
Seattle Ridge(2400')  26 NE-SE   7  13

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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