Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Monday, April 4th 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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE in the Turnagain pass and surrounding areas due to large destructive glide avalanches. These are most pronounced at 3,000' and below. Many popular slopes have dark brown glide cracks that could release at anytime and travel under these is discouraged. Cautious route-finding and careful terrain evaluation are essential to avoid being under the runout of glide cracks.

In the Alpine, where a stout surface crust has formed, the avalanche danger is LOW. If the sun comes out and melts this crust, wet loose avalanches are possible later in the day.

*As glide avalanches continue to release summer use trails with avalanche terrain above should be avoided. Byron trail in Portage Valley is not a recommended and the Turnagain Arm Trail between Bird and Girdwood, remains CLOSED.

 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.
3 Considerable Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
Special Announcement

We are very sad to report that there was an avalanche fatality yesterday in the Hoodoo Mountains. This is in the Eastern Alaska Range and near the Arctic Man events. Details are limited at this time. Our thoughts and condolences go out the family and friends of the victim.

If you are headed to Arctic Man please stop by the large CNFAIC trailer (near the beer tent) for information regarding FREE rescue clinics and general avalanche information. We will also have a beacon park set up so you can practice your skills anytime, day or night. Click HERE for more information. The snowpack has been reported to be very unstable in the Hoodoos with many human triggered avalanches over the weekend. Please be on your guard and don't forget your beacon, shovel and probe.


Avalanche Problem 1

Glide avalanches remain our primary concern in the Turnagain Pass and surrounding regions. Although the snowpack is stable itself, how it is sticking to the sides of the mountins is another thing. On all aspects at elevations below 3,000' the snowpack, as a whole, continues to ooze down the slopes and create cracks (despite having a hard crust on the surface). Every now and again one of these cracks will release into a full-depth avalanche. There is no way to predict when a crack is going to release. What we do know is the frequency of glide avalanches is on the rise. Since Friday (4/1) five large glide avalanches occurred on Seattle Ridge and several others between Girdwood and Summit Lake. Read the reports from over the weekend HERE.

The reason this is so alarming is that new glide cracks are appearing daily and many threaten popular terrain. The Seattle Ridge uptrack is one of our biggest concerns because a large crack now puts this popular route in the line of fire. If you were to be in the wrong place at the wrong time you would not survive a glide avalanche. High marking or setting a skin track under a glide crack is not recommended!

Heather showed the photos below yesterday but they are too good not to post again today as today's concerns are the same. Please 'thread the needle' carefully as you move through these mid-elevations.



Avalanche Problem 2

Other than the scary glide avalanche issue we have a normal caution in the backcountry. The snowpack is stable and sports a solid crust on the surface. Sunshine yesterday softened the surface enough for bone fide springtime corn skiing by the afternoon. On slopes the sun is not warming, there is 'slide for life' potential as the surface crust is very slippery. For today, high clouds may limit surface warming - but then again, the sun has a way of poking out in places. 

Cornices? We are still waiting for the Alpine to warm up enough to start seeing natural cornice falls. These giant features are still holding on and looming.

Mountain Weather

Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted many backcountry travelers yesterday. Ridgetop winds were light from the East and downright calm on some ridgelines. Temperatures reached the mid 40's F in the parking lots and the upper 20's F on the ridgetops. 

For today we are expecting some high clouds fill in as a frontal band associated with a low pressure just South of the Aleutians heads our way. Winds are expected to increase to the 10-20mph range from the East on the ridgetops and a trace of snow is possible above 1,000' with a chance for a raindrop or two below 1,000'. 

Tonight into Tuesday we should see the low pressure system move through with light precipitation (rain/snow line ~1,000') and accumulation in the 1-3" range. Stay tuned.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 34  118 
Summit Lake (1400') 32  37 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 34  104 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 25  NE  22 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 28  SE  24 

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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