Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 23rd 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

Although a generally LOW avalanche danger exists in the Turnagain Pass region, there are two exceptions that are keeping 'yellow' in the picture. These are glide and wind slab avalanches.

First, a MODERATE danger exists at the mid-elevations where destructive glide avalanches remain possible. Limiting time, or avoiding altogether, exposure under glide cracks is highly recommended. Second, a MODERATE danger exists at the high elevations where fresh wind slabs ~6-10" thick may be found on any aspect. These slabs are expected to be scattered near ridgelines that have seen recent, or current, wind loading. Also, don't forget to give cornices a wide berth, these are large and looming.

If you are thinking of going to the Summit Lake area, be aware that different avalanche problems exist within the snowpack. Click HERE to read this morning's Summit Lake Summary. 

 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.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Special Announcement
  • Monday, January 25th, 7-8 pm: Come to the Blue and Gold Board Shop for a FREE Avalanche Awareness class taught by CNFAIC forecaster Heather Thamm. For more details click here: HERE. Know Before You Go!

Avalanche Problem 1

It's like a lingering cold that just won't go away...... glide cracks linger, and litter, the mid-elevation slopes around Turnagain Pass. They continue to slowly open and every once in a while one will release. The last known release was on Sharks Fin (South facing ~2,000') either late Wednesday or early Thursday. Since these avalanche spontaneously at any time, it is best to avoid, or do your best to limit time under, glide cracks. With questionable visibility again today, it may be difficult to identify glide cracks. 

Photo below: These are two glide avalanches that released one week ago on Seattle Ridge above the motorized parking lot. There are still three very prominent cracks that look to be on the verge of releasing next to these two.

Avalanche Problem 2

With an overall generally stable snowpack we are dealing these days with 'surface instabilities'. Shallow wind slabs in steep terrain are the most likely avalanche that could be triggered by snowmachiners, skiers or snowboarders today. Between 1 and 4" of snow fell overnight and we have another 1-3" of light snow in the forecast today. Add to this, moderate ridgetop Easterly winds and we have shallow wind slabs. These are most likely going to be right near ridgelines where the wind is blowing. I'm guessing there will be ridgelines that have very little wind and hence no wind slab issue and a LOW avalanche danger.

If the skies clear enough for travel to the Alpine zones, watch for recent wind drifted snow and stiffer snow over softer snow. Good ways to do this are getting off old snowmachine tracks, or off the skin track, and using your boot or pole to feel what the surface layers do. Does your boot or pole punch through to softer snow? Or, is there a progression from soft to stiffer snow? Remember too, this needs to be done in areas representative of where you are looking to ride and/or ski.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday's weather consisted of overcast skies with light snow falling on the North side of the Pass (rain up to1,000'). Winds on the ridgetops were light to moderate from the East. Temperatures were mild....34F at 1,000' and in the upper 20's in the Alpine.

Overnight we picked up 2-3" of new snow above 1,200' with rain below. Less amounts on the South side of Turnagain Pass. For today, we should see intermittent snowfall above 1,200' and rain below. Again precipitation intensity will be higher near the Arm and less over the inland areas. Skies should be cloudy with possible patches of blue here and there and temperatures near freezing. Ridgetop winds should be in the 10-15mph range with stronger gusts.

Sunday is looking to be similar with intermittent precipitation, mild temperatures and possible breaks in cloud cover.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 31   2 0.2  86 
Summit Lake (1400') 30  0 27 
Alyeska Mid (1700')  32  2.5 0.37  69 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 25  ENE  12  33 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 27  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.

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