Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 7th 2017 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

MODERATE avalanche danger remains in the Alpine where triggering an isolated wind slab or a deeper hard slab 2+’ thick is possible on steep wind loaded slopes that haven’t avalanched. At Treeline and below there is LOW avalanche danger, where triggering an avalanche is unlikely, but not impossible. 

In the periphery zones of Girdwood, Johnson Pass and Summit Lake a shallower snowpack exists and it may be easier to trigger a slab avalanche in these areas. 

Check out the Summit Lake Summary HERE.

*** If heading to Hatcher this weekend - unstable conditions exist - check the Hatcher Pass advisory HERE Mark your calendars for the FREE rescue workshop at Hatcher Pass on January 14th. More info HERE. 

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
2 Moderate Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Special Announcement


  • Today at 10:30am join CNFAIC and AMDS at the Turnagain Pass motorized lot for a "passing off" of the keys celebration (keys to a brand new 2017 Ski Doo Summit SP 850)! HUGE thanks to AMDS and BRP/Ski Doo for granting the Friends of the CNFAIC a new loaner snowmachine for the season!! Stick around for a quick state of the snowpack discussion after!
  • Sunday, January 8th at 5:30 pm, Kenai Peninsula Avalanche Information Workshop at the Flats Bistro. Hope to see you there! More info HERE.
  • Tuesday January 10th, Discussion on Backcountry RESCUE presented by team members of the U.S. Air Force 212th Rescue Squadron (RQS/PJ's) and Alaska Mountain Rescue Group (AMRG). Details HERE!

*Its that time of year again, PFD time! If you are feeling generous and want to support your local avalanche center, Pick Click Give, makes it really easy to become a supporting member of CNFAIC.

Avalanche Problem 1

This weekend if choosing to travel in avalanche terrain it is important to remember although the snowpack is wind hardened and tired, it does have a poor structure. There are a variety of weak layers (buried surface hoar and facets) in the middle of the pack as well as at the bottom (facets). The slab on these weak layers is quite variable and hard - and though difficult to trigger, the possibility does exist. Steep wind loaded slopes (Northern and Eastern) that haven’t avalanched yet are the most suspect. Likely trigger spots are in thinner areas near rocks. Obvious signs like cracking and ‘whumpfing’ are becoming less common, making it more difficult to assess slope stability. Watch for areas with hard over soft snow and hollow sounding snow. Avoid cornices, wind pillowed snow in start zones and loaded areas farther down slope (from the strong winds). Hard slabs may allow you to get well out onto them before breaking. Heavier loads, such as multiple snowmachines or people on the slope at one time might tip the balance. Safe travel protocol is your friend. Remember to only expose one person at a time, watch your partners, have an escape route planned, group up in safe zones and pay attention to other groups around you. 

In the periphery areas (Girdwood, Johnson/Lynx Creek and Summit Lake) where a thinner snowpack exists, several observers have experienced collapsing/whumpfing in more recently which indicates the potential for these persistent slab avalanches may be higher. Heighten caution is advised if traveling out of the core Turnagain Pass terrain. 

Slab over facets on the North side of Tincan Wednesday. Photo: Heather Thamm



Avalanche Problem 2

Believe it or not, 3 glide avalanches have occurred in the past week in the Turnagain Pass zone. These are SE aspect of Lynx CreekSE aspect of Seattle Creek, and the SW face of Eddies. Along with recognizing wind affected snow, keep an eye out for glide cracks and limit time under these. 


Mountain Weather

Yesterday was clear, sunny and cold. Temperatures were in the teens along ridge tops and single digits in the valleys. Winds were light and Northerly. Overnight temperatures were near 0F and below, skies were clear and winds remained light.

Today, tonight and tomorrow will be similar as blocking pattern (Omega block) dominates the weather in Southcentral Alaska into next weekend. Daytime temperatures will be slightly warmer in the teens-20Fs and dip back down to single digits at night. N winds will be mostly light with some gusts into the 20s. Skies will be mostly clear. 

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880')  5  0  0 35 
Summit Lake (1400')  2   0   0 11 
Alyeska Mid (1700')  10  0  0 23


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')  10 NE 18
Seattle Ridge(2400')  13 WNW  15

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: Oct 05, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed. Will be open for the 2019/20 season pending adequate snow cover.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed

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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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