Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 9th 2016 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

As rain, wind and snow impact the Turnagain Pass and surrounding areas today we will have a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger at all elevations above 1,000'. Dry snow avalanches in the Alpine (above 2,500') and wet snow avalanches (below 2,500') may occur naturally today. Human triggered avalanches will be likely on slopes 35 and steeper. In the Alpine, avalanches are expected to be dry wind slabs between 8-16" thick, while in the wet snow below, wet loose avalanches are expected. Below 1,000 there is a MODERATE danger where debris from a slide releasing above may be channeled. 

Sticking to low angle slopes and playing in the flats are good ways to avoid all avalanche hazard. If you do venture onto the steeper terrain, careful snowpack assessment, conservative decision-making and safe travel practices will be key.

For conditions in the Summit Lake area on the Kenai please see the Weekly Summary which comes out on Saturday mornings! 

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
3 Considerable Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
3 Considerable Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
2 Moderate Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Special Announcement

Today we will be hosting a FREE Avalanche Rescue Workshop from 11:00am to 12:30pm at the motorized lot on Turnagain Pass. YES, it will be damp but we will power through for those willing to brave the wet conditions! We will practice beacon searches, learn strategic shoveling techniques and other rescue necessities. This workshop is open to everyone: motorized and non-motorized, novices and experts. Don't forget your rain gear!

Filing for the PFD this week? Remember, The Friends of the CNFAIC is part of PICK.CLICK.GIVE. Your donations are greatly appreciated and an integral part to making the CNFAIC possible and sustainable. 

Avalanche Problem 1

After a brief break in storms last week gave backcountry travelers an opportunity to get out into the mountains, we are back at it today with a warm, wet and windy storm rolling through for the weekend. Overnight there has been .5 to 1" of rain below 2,000' and roughly 5-8" of wet snow above this. Today we are expecting another .5" of precipitation; this equates to rain below 1,500' and 3-5" of wet snow above. 

In the Alpine, above 2,500', where dry snow is falling avalanche issues are expected to be confined to what we call 'storm snow instabilities'. This means avalanches will be composed of the new storm snow and are not expected to break into layers deeper in the pack. The most likely avalanches will be on wind loaded slopes where fresh wind slabs 8-16" have formed. These are always the most 'touchy' during formation or just after. Skies are not likely to clear enough today, but if they do and you find yourself in the dry snow, watch for how the winds have distributed the snow during the storm. Look for smooth rounded surfaces, hollow feeling snow and stiff snow over soft snow, these are signs of wind loading and something to steer clear of on steep slopes today.

*Cornice falls will again be a concern today with the warm temperatures. These can break at anytime on their own as well as with the weight of a person. They can trigger an avalanche below and be very dangerous. 

Avalanche Problem 2

Wet loose avalanches are expected below 2,500' where wet snow is falling and/or rain. These wet 'sluffs' have the ability to entrain large amounts of wet snow and run further than expected in some cases. However, today these should only entrain the top 6-8" of snow cover and be more moderate in size. Areas such as Seattle Ridge, above the motorized lot, may see some wet loose avalanches running today.

Photo below is of the Seattle Ridge snowmachine 'uptrack'. Many steep slopes and gullies sit along this ridge to either side of the uptrack as well as above it. Sticking to the mellow terrain and avoiding time under these slopes and gullies will be key today.

Additional Concern

Several glide cracks are opening and some have released in the region. As with cornices, these are best dealt with through avoidance and limiting any exposure underneath them.

Mountain Weather

Partly cloudy skies and light rain showers (below 1500') and snow showers (above 1500') covered the area yesterday. Ridgetop winds were generally Easterly around 20mph with gusts in the 40's. Temperatures were the upper 30's at l000' and near 32 at 2000'. 

Today, another warm pacific system is moving through. Overnight, between .5 and 1" of rain has fallen from around 2000' and below while 5-8" of wet snow has fallen above. The Easterly winds have picked up to the 40's mph at Sunburst ridgetop weather station with gusts in the 60's. Through the day we are expecting to see another .5" of rain below ~1500' and 3-5" of wet snow above. Ridgetop winds should remain strong, between 30-40mph from the East with stronger gusts.

On Sunday ridgetop winds are expected to remain strong and precipitation taper off slightly as we will still be in the midst of very warm moist air streaming in from the Gulf. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 34  0 (rain)  1.1  78 
Summit Lake (1400') 35  26 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 34  0 (rain)  0.72  59 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')  28 ENE  31  67 
Seattle Ridge(2400')  30 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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