Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Monday, November 5th 2018 7:00 am by CNFAIC Staff
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The 2018/2019 winter avalanche season has begun!

It is looking like winter in Turnagain Pass, Girdwood and through much of the state. This is thanks to a widespread snow storm on Oct. 29th that brought 8" of snow to Girdwood, 5-8" along the Seward Hwy through Turnagain Pass and up to a foot or more at the higher elevations. The new snow fell onto older October snow above 2,500' but onto bare ground below this. As of Monday morning, Nov 5th, there have been three reported skier triggered avalanches. Here's a look at the snow/avalanche events to date:

- Oct 29th, 6-8" of snow to sea level, 12+" of snow in the Alpine, followed by cold, clear weather.

- Oct. 30th, we received our first report of a small remote triggered avalanche along the Crow Pass Trail.

- Oct. 31st, avalanche triggered by a skier taking a few jumps on the snow at the entrance to a line off of Pastoral Peak. This avalanche was up to 2' deep yet only 20' wide. 

- Nov 2nd, Wind event, 24 hours of sustained 20-30mph east winds in the Alpine

- Nov 3rd, another avalanche on Pastoral Peak, triggered intentionally by a skier performing a ski cut. This was a shallow wind slab, 3-8" thick, 30' wide and running full path.

These early season avalanches are good reminders that a thin snowpack can still produce a slide. They are also good reminders that a layered snowpack exists above 2,500' in the Alpine where snow from mid-Oct existed before Oct 29th. 

Red Flags to watch for:

  • Recent avalanches
  • Cracks in the snow that shoot out from you
  • Whumpfing (collapsing) of the snowpack
  • Rapid changes in weather (snow/rain/wind/temperature)


Remember to always consider the consequences of an avalanche, even a small wind slab can knock a person off their feet and somewhere they don't want to go.



Pastoral Avalanches, North aspect, ~4,700'. Photo from Oct 31st (Andy Kubic)



Photos from Nov 3rd (Brady Deal)


A few photos from Turnagain Pass on Friday, Nov 2nd. Below is Seattle Ridge (Duncan Wright).

Below left, winds on Seattle Ridge Nov 2nd. Right, wind flagging off Sunburst ridge (Heather Thamm).


Thin snowpack... this is looking up at Repeat Offender on Seattle Ridge. Side note: sun crust formed last week on south aspects!



 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

The CNFAIC will be issuing intermittent snow and avalanche updates as conditions warrant through mid-November. Daily avalanche forecasts are planned to begin on Thanksgiving weekend - unless we see more snow and avalanche issues before this demanding an earlier start. 

*Early season folks:  Please send us your snow/avalanche reports so we can post them on our observation page. That you to all those who have sumbitted already! Simply click 'submit observation' under the Observation tab above. This is a huge benefit for the community and our forecasters. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for our most up to date information.




Friday November 9th

6th Annual Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop

9am - 4:30pm, Alaska Pacific University's Atwood Bldg.  Join us for the 6th annual SAAW. Alaska’s Southcentral avalanche community will team up with snow professionals from around the region, Southeast Alaska and Idaho to share knowledge and stories. This is a 'must attend' event for avalanche professionals and an excellent way for recreational backcountry users to delve into advanced avalanche topics! 

Pre-registration closes on Thursday, November 8th at 6pm. After that, you can get tickets for $20 at the door between 8:30 and 9am. Lunch, coffee, snacks and a post workshop 'beer social' is included. Full schedule and registration HERE.


Thursday, Nov 15th

Beartooth CNFAIC Fall Fundraiser:  Hope for Snow!

8 - 11pm, Beartooth Theater Pub & Grill.  A slightly different format this year with short stories and live music. SNOW STORIES by:

· Wendy Wagner
· Roman Dial
· Blaine Smith


Tickets are $20 and will be available starting Oct. 23 at the Beartooth website and box office.


Wednesday, Nov 21st

Snowmachine throwback film fundraiser - "2 Stroke Cold Smoke"!

7 - 10pm, 49th State Brewing Co Anchorage. Kick off the riding season, connect with CNFAIC and learn about snowmachine specific avalanche awareness/course opportunities with a 'throwback film' night!!  

$20 tickets available soon online and at local snowmachine dealerships. More details coming soon!

Avalanche Problem 1

As we wait for more snow to fall, we are going to provide updates and some educational reminders for the season. 

The theme for today is GET THE GEAR! from the National campaign, Know Before You Go.  New from KBYG are online training courses - check them out here - they are HIGHLY recommended as a refresher or to supplement your professional avalanche course!

Investing in avalanche rescue gear is an investment in your life and your backcountry partner's life. If your gear is old (analog beacon) or you are new to winter backcountry travel we recomend the following when purchasing or upgrading your rescue equipment. 

-Triple Antenna Beacon with multiple-burial marking

-Aluminum Probe at least 270cm long (Alaska has a deep snowpack)

-Aluminum Shovel made by a manufacturer who specialized is avalanche rescue equipment (retire your old plastic shovels)

An Avalanche Air Bag is an additional piece of safety equipment that does not replace the three essentials above, but has proven to reduce the likelihood of a full-burial.

***The BEST avalanche rescue equipment is the gear you practice with often. Remember these skills are perishable and practicing avalanche rescue once a month with your regular backcountry partners is something we should all strive for. Check out our calendar for upcoming Avalanche Courses and some free CNFAIC hosted Awareness Talks and Rescue Workshops. 

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 15, 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: Open
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: OpenRainbow Lake was still frozen with small patches of melting ice as of Sunday afternoon Apr 14th. Snow is melting fast along the first 1/2 mile of road from trailhead.
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
© 2019 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.