Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Tuesday, November 29th 2016
Created: Nov 29th 5:35 am
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.
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
Special Announcement

The Bottom Line

A MODERATE avalanche danger continues in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. Slab avalanches 1-2 feet thick may be triggered on all aspects and elevations above 1,500 feet. Watch for fresh wind slabs to form today along ridgelines as Northerly winds are expected to increase. Slabs may also be triggered in sheltered areas with softer snow where buried surface hoar exists. Glide avalanches also remain a concern as glide cracks continue to open.

Primary Concern

Yesterday was a quiet and cold day on the Pass. There were no new avalanches seen or reported despite roughly 30 vehicles filling the parking lots. The last human triggered avalanches were on Sunday in the Seattle Creek drainage, you can see that report HERE. That said, there is still a significant portion of terrain that has not been touched and uncertainty exists, especially on these slopes. 

The fact remains that a layer of buried surface hoar sits roughly 1-2 feet below the surface and observers continue to find it reactive. The most suspect slopes are ones that have not avalanched in the past two weeks, since the layer was buried on Nov 16. These slopes can be a bit tricky to suss out. So what does one do? It depends on your personal risk tolerance - if choosing to get onto steeper slopes use safe travel practices:

  • Expose one person at a time
  • Group up in safe zones
  • Have an escape route planned
  • Watch your partners and where other groups are around you

Secondary Concern

Winds are forecast to pick up today from a Northerly direction. With loose snow remaining in areas, fresh wind slabs are likely to form on leeward slopes. These will likely be shallow but still could pose a problem if deposited where the Nov 16 buried surface hoar sits underneath, or in steep terrain with high consequences. Keep your eye out for what the wind is doing with the snow today.

**Sunburst weather station will hopefully be back online in the next couple days.

Additional Concern

Watch for glide cracks and remember to limit time under these, there have been a handful that released last week. *Several cracks have been opening in popular terrain like Tincan’s Common bowl and the SW face of Sunburst.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday was cold and clear. Temperatures reached the single digits at most elevations. Winds were light and variable and there was no precipitation.

Today, Tuesday, another cold single-digit-day is on tap. North winds along ridgetops are forecast to bump into the 20-30's mph and will help chill the day even more. Ridgetop temperatures have increased slightly and sit in the mid-teens. No precipitation is expected.

The next chance for snow looks to be Wednesday night into Thursday - stay tuned!

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 10  19 
Summit Lake (1400')
Alyeska Mid (1700') 12  0


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') N/A  N/A   N/A   N/A  
Seattle Ridge(2400') 12  Variable  21 

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: Apr 11, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: OpenWide swaths of open river in the Placer Valley. Travel with extreme caution!
Skookum Drainage: ClosedSKOOKUM DRAINAGE CLOSED TO MOTORIZED USE ON APRIL 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: ClosedClosed for the remainder of the 2017 season.
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

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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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