Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, March 15th 2016 7:00 am by Graham Predeger
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Heightened avalanche conditions exist below about 3,000’ where the avalanche danger is MODERATE.  Glide cracks have been active this week, producing large and destructive avalanches in mid-elevation terrain.  In areas not effected by glide cracks (above ~3,000’) there is a generally LOW avalanche danger.  In certain areas, it’ll take some methodical route finding to safely navigate the maze of mid-elevation glide cracks in order to gain access to the alpine. 

*If you are headed to the Summit Lake area don't forget to check Summit Lake Summary here.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
Special Announcement

A special thank you to everyone who has submitted snowpack, weather and avalanche observations this season!  The more info we receive from the field, directly translates to a more accurate and ultimately better avalanche advisory we can produce.  So please, keep those observations and photos coming!

Avalanche Problem 1

It’s becoming difficult to keep track of new glide avalanches versus the old.  Observers yesterday noticed at least six cracks (maybe more) that have avalanched in the previous 24 hours including one witnessed by a snowboarder from the top of Tincan common yesterday.  Glide cracks continue to threaten a lot of prime ski and snowmachine terrain in the mid-elevations (1,000-3,000’).  Keep in mind the debris from these can run into snow free areas and threaten some summer trails. 

As long as glide cracks continue to open up, move and release, we will stress the importance of avoidance, which is THE ONLY WAY TO MANAGE THIS AVALANCHE PROBLEM.


A complex of glide cracks was first heard, then seen moving and buckling on the SW face of Eddies yesterday.  photo: Ryan Lewthwaite

Avalanche Problem 2

Big crowds (for Alaska anyway!) have been flocking to the Turnagain pass area as spring break for many, has aligned nicely with a good weather window.  This makes it all the more urgent to practice safe travel protocol and avoid multiple skiers or riders in avalanche terrain simultaneously.  Pay attention to your surroundings and adjacent parties.  This holds especially true for snowmachiners where a rider can move over large distances in a very short time.  Beyond the human risks, there are some other avalanche hazards to keep on the radar today.

Cornice fall: Very large cornice features loom over many ridgeline and have a tendency to break further back than expected. Give them lots of space, and limit exposure time under them. 

Loose snow: Sluffs are fast moving and will be proportional to the slope you are on today.  Big terrain will yield big sluffs, particularly on cooler, drier northerly aspects.  On slopes with a southern tilt, wet loose avalanches could be initiated later in the day.  The biggest threat with both of these is the potential to get knocked off your feet in steep, committing terrain. 

Windslabs – On shaded aspects in very steep terrain it is still possible to find an old isolated wind slab. We saw several of these in the 8-12” range on Saturday and Sunday relegated to very steep (45 degrees or greater), unsupported terrain.

Mountain Weather

Mostly clear skies yesterday dominated the region for the 3rd day in a row with no new precipitation.  Temperatures peaked in the upper 30’s at 1,000’.  Winds were light to non-existent on the ridgetops before bumping up slightly overnight from the SE.  

Today we can expect some clouds to move in with a chance for a few flurries this morning at 1,000' but don't expect much for accumulation.  Temperatures should reach into the mid-30's and winds will be light from the east in the 5-15 mph range on ridgetops.

A few more clouds may filter in to our area throughout the week but any precipitation appears to be on the lighter side.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 30  136 
Summit Lake (1400')  28 42 
Alyeska Mid (1700')  31  0  108


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')  26  SE  18
Seattle Ridge(2400')  24  SE  3  10

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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