Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, March 16th 2016 7:00 am by Aleph Johnston-Bloom
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 very active this week, producing large and destructive avalanches in mid-elevation terrain and some have run into low elevation snow free zones. In areas not affected by glide cracks (above ~3,000’) there is a generally LOW avalanche danger.  Watch for changing conditions as the weather pattern shifts.

*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'
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Avalanche Problem 1

Yesterday was again an active one for glides with new glide avalanches being observed throughout the day. As noted in the advisory yesterday it is getting harder to keep tabs on what is new and what is from the previous day. Luckily we have some terrific observers and photo records to help document the progression. In discussions with long time snow professionals they have all remarked that there is a very unusual glide problem this winter, with the past 10 days being one of most active cycles they can ever remember. Glide cracks 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, especially around Girdwood Valley and Portage.

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.  Remember these are totally unpredictable, release naturally and could be deadly if you were to get caught-up in that amount of snow. It is the entire winter snowpack releasing at the ground. 

Penguin Ridge glide avalanche progression from 7 pm on Monday, 9 am Tuesday and 1:30 pm Tuesday. Photos: Tim Glassett


Avalanche Problem 2

It has been a quiet few days in the Alpine with no reported human triggered avalanches since the weekend. Today a weak storm system will be affecting the region. This is not forecasted to produce much precipitation or be particularly windy. If conditions change more rapidly than expected the hazard could rise. As new snow falls observe how well it bonds to the surfaces below. Practice safe travel protocol and avoid multiple skiers or riders in avalanche terrain simultaneously.  Pay attention to your surroundings and adjacent parties.  Remember you may find one of these avalanche problems listed below and choose your terrain wisely.

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 if we get windows of sunshine.  The biggest threat with both of these is the potential to get knocked off your feet in steep, committing terrain. 

Wind slabs – 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

Yesterday was mostly overcast with a mixture of clouds and sun. Temperatures were in the mid 20Fs to high 30Fs and winds were light and easterly. 

Today will be mostly cloudy with scattered rain and snow showers throughout the day. 1-5" of snow is forecasted to fall above 1100'. Winds will be southerly 5-15 mph with locally higher gusts. 

The cloudy skies and rain and snow showers are expected to continue until mid-day Friday with a small break and another system moving in for the weekend. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 32  .1  134 
Summit Lake (1400') 33 0  0  42
Alyeska Mid (1700') 32 1 .06 107 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 24   E  6 16 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 25  ESE 11  20

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.

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