Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, November 25th 2017 7:00 am by CNFAIC Staff
Updated: Nov 26th 8:45 am
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

UPDATE SUNDAY at 8:45am:  

As the weather starts to change today be aware of changing avalanche conditions. The forecast is calling for 1-6” of snow over the next 12 hours combined with moderate Easterly winds. This is enough wind and precipiation to form new wind slabs on steep leeward features, unsupported slopes or cross loaded gullies. Although wind slabs are expected to be small they could be tender, and even a shallow slab could have high consequences in the wrong place. Due to early season conditions, rocks and exposed terrain features are abundant and pretty difficult to avoid right now. Its important to keep in mind that our current surface conditions will be suspect weak layers as snow starts to accumulate. Cold temperatures over the last few weeks have faceted out the snowpack in many places creating a weak foundation. There is at most seven inches of low density snow is sitting on the ground from the road to mid elevations of Turnagain Pass, and in the alpine it’s extremely variable. Check out recent observations and a video below from Seattle Ridge and Tincan this week. Remember if there snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide! Pay attention for any clues of instability: wumpfing sounds, shooting cracks, or any recent avalanches. 

This week expect a big pattern change in the weather as a strong low pressure moves into the Gulf of Alaska. Although there’s still some uncertainty as to how much precipitation the Kenai Mountains will get, expect warmer temps and a shift away from the cold pattern we’ve experienced over the last few weeks. We will be issuing another update on Monday and if this storm materializes, Monday will mark the beginning of daily advisories.  


Sparse snow coverage on the SE face of Seattle Ridge, Repeat Offender. Photo taken Friday, November 24th.


Facets have been forming throughout the month of November due to cold temperates and a very thin snowpack. Our current surface conditions could be our next problem layer once we get snow. 


Keep an eye out for hollow sounding snow and avoid steep terrain if it looks to be wind loaded: smooth pillowed features. 


Strong winds over the last few weeks have created variable surface conditions on windward slopes in the alpine. Photo of Seattle Ridge looking South.


 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
0 NO RATING Alpine / Above 2,500'
0 NO RATING Treeline / 1,000'-2,500'
0 NO RATING Below Treeline / Below 1,000'
Special Announcement

It is with very heavy hearts that we pass along the news of an avalanche fatality at Hatcher Pass on Wednesday, November 22nd. Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center released a preliminary report yesterday with more details about the accident. You can keep up to date at their website and their Facebook page HERE.  For the most recent Anchorage Daily News article click HERE. Our deepest condolences go out to the victim's family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.

Hatcher Pass avalanche conditions: If you are headed to Hatcher Pass this holiday weekend, please check their forecast at for avalanche information. 


CNFAIC staff will be at the Yamaha dealership on Spenard today (Saturday) from 11-2pm with info about the Avalanche Center, our forecast page, and avalanche rescue equipment.

Avalanche Problem 1

Avalanche Problem 2

Are you Rescue ready? 

An avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe are the minimum required avalanche rescue equipment for backcountry travel, but simply carrying this gear isn’t enough. This means making sure your equipment is up-to-date and functional, and you are proficient at using this gear under stress. Old avalanche beacons should be up graded to new technology similar to how we upgrade our smart phones. Replace batteries, assemble your probe, and practice before you go into the mountains. Everyone should strive to become an expert at companion rescue. This means taking an avalanche course and practicing your skills regularly under stress. Refreshing your avalanche rescue skills is just like keeping your CPR and first aid skills current. If its been more than a few years take a course you’ll be surprised how much has changed and how little you remember. 


The Friends of the CNFAIC have two scholarships dedicated to avalanche education for skiers, snowmachiners and all user groups. The funds generated to make these possible are in celebration of Rob Hammel and Amy Downing, their love and passion for the mountains, and to help others stay safe. We encourage you to read each one and apply yourself if you fit the need, or pass along to someone who could benefit.  Applications due on Dec 15th.

Rob Hammel Scholarship Fund - For recreational users and professional avalanche workers. 

Amy Downing Scholarship Fund - For women recreational users.


Mountain Weather

For weather information during these updates, see:

CNFAIC Weather Page

NWS Mountain Recreation Forecast 

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

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


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')        
Seattle Ridge(2400')        

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

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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