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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Heather Thamm  
Sunday, March 27th 2016
Created: Mar 27th 6:07 am
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'
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE below 3000’ in Turnagain Pass where glide cracks continue to avalanche without warming. Identify areas with existing glide cracks and avoid being under or near their run-out.

In the Alpine the avalanche danger is LOW, where triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, but taking a fall in steep terrain will be difficult to self arrest. This is a great example of how LOW DANGER DOESN’T MEAN NO DANGER.

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


Primary Concern

The glide cycle continues throughout our region leaving large streaks of dirt and debris behind. Dozens of glides have released throughout Turnagain Pass and hundreds of large cracks continue to creep open and move. Without new snow to cover up old glides it is getting difficult to track new activity.

Two nights of below freezing temperatures have helped to temporarily stabilize the snow in places without glide cracks. It is important to understand that superficial freezing has added strength to the surface, but the snow below is still moist and poorly bonded. Glides can release even with superficial cooling, as observed yesterday on Seattle Ridge. See photo below. 

The entire East face of Seattle Ridge is covered with cracks including the most of Repeat Offender, which has seen accelerated activity this week. The area near the ‘uptrack’ is getting more cramped, and navigating through the mid-elevation band is getting more and more complex. As long as glide cracks continue to release we will continue to stress the importance of avoiding this hazard! 

 

A lot of recent glide activity on Center Ridge and Tincan Ridge and many glides that haven't yet released. 

 

 


Secondary Concern

Below freezing temperatures have formed a firm surface crust in the mid and upper elevations. This crust has added strength to the snowpack following unusually warm weather last week. The good news is that the avalanche hazard is low in the upper elevations, the bad news is it come with a different hazard to manage. Slide for life conditions do exist in steep terrain where it will be unlikely to trigger and avalanche, but easy to lose an edge. It is still necessary to consider the consequences of taking a fall in the terrain you are both ascending and descending.

*Cornices remain extremely large and perched along many ridgelines. These features deserve extra space and can break farther back than expected. Triggering a cornice will become more likely later in the day with warming temperatures. Trigger a cornice above steep terrain could mean going for a long ride.

Two people on Tincan Ridge above a large cornice. These features are very difficult to judge and this is a great example of how important it is to space out and only expose one person at a time. Photo by Ryan Lewthwaite. 

 

Very firm surface conditions can make skining conditions difficult right now. 


Mountain Weather

Yesterday skies were mostly sunny and winds were light from the East. In the mid elevation zone evening temperatures dipped below freezing and daytime temps reached the low 40F’s. No precipitation was recorded in the last 24hours. Overnight temperatures reached the mid 20’s F.

This morning skies will be mostly clear and become cloudy in the afternoon with rain showers beginning early evening. Temperatures will start to increase throughout the day and rain/snow will be around 1500’. Ridgetop Winds from the East are also expected to build throughout the day becoming Moderate (20-30 mph) by late afternoon. 

This evening a low-pressure system will move into our region bringing warm air and rain showers to Western Prince William Sound. Unseasonably warm temperatures, strong winds and heavy precipitation are expected to last several days. 



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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 32  124 
Summit Lake (1400') 33  0.1  41 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 32  103 

 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 23  Variable 12 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 26  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: Mar 15, 2017 )

AREA STATUS WEATHER AND RIDING CONDITIONS
Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: Open
Skookum Drainage: OpenSkookum drainage closes to motorized use on April 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: Open
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for 2016/17 winter season. This is a non-motorized season. This alternates every other year and will open again during the 2017/18 winter.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
Summit Lake: Open

Subscribe to the Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory:

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.


USFS SNOW AND AVALANCHE HOTLINE (907) 754-2369
If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email staff@chugachavalanche.org
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