Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Tuesday, January 8th 2019 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

A generally LOW avalanche danger exists across all elevations bands for the Turnagain Area. Triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible. Good travel habits, such as exposing one person at a time, watching your partners and grouping up in safe zones are, as always, key ways to minimize risk. Ease onto steep slopes and be mindful of people below you and on adjacent slopes. Avoid travel under glide cracks. 

SUMMIT LAKE / JOHNSON PASS / LYNX DRAINAGE: *** We want to emphasize the difference here! More caution is advised South of Turnagain Pass.*** Keep in mind buried weak layers exist in the middle and base of the snowpack. More potential for triggering a large slab avalanche exists in this zone. Choose terrain wisely. Please read the Additional Concerns. 

 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.
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

Check out our calendar for upcoming avalanche classes and events in January! Lots of opportunities with all the avalanche education providers in the area. 

Avalanche Problem 1

It has been a week since we had any report of human triggered avalanche activity and observers are not reporting signs of instability. As a mostly calm and cold weather pattern dominates our area and continues until the weekend, we are in the "normal caution" phase of avalanche concerns. These include:

  • Triggering an outlier avalanche. This would most likely be an 'unsupported slab' that sits above a cliff or steep rocky terrain. There may still be a pocket of buried surface hoar lurking.
  • Triggering a cornice fall. Remember they break farther back from ridges than often expected. Give them a wide berth.
  • Sluffs on steep slopes. These have been mostly small so far but as the surface becomes weaker the potential will increase. 

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught in a glide avalanche also remains a concern. Glide cracks are opening and releasing and have been observed throughout the advisory area in both the Alpine and Treeline elevation bands. It is important to minimize time spent underneath the glide cracks. Release is unpredictable and not human triggered. Be on the lookout for cracks and wrinkled looking snow (often a precursor to cracking). 

Remember LOW hazard doesn't mean NO hazard! It is still important to look for signs of instability and use good travel techniques.  

Recent glide avalanches and glide cracks opening in Lynx Creek drainage, 1-7-19.

Lipps glide cracks, 1-7-19. 

Additional Concern

Persistent Slabs

South of Turnagain - Lynx Creek/Johnson Pass/Summit Lake zone:  A poor snowpack structure exists in these areas. The buried surface hoar that we have been talking about over the past week has been found as well as facet/crust combinations in the bottom of the snowpack. The New Year's storm overloaded a variety of these weak layers as can be seen in photos from the avalanche activity throughout Summit LakeIf you're headed this way, the snowpack becomes more complex - evaluate terrain exposure and the snowpack as you travel. 

The facet/crust combination continues to be a layer of concern in Summit Lake. Observers over the weekend found this set-up to be stubborn to initiate but still consistently reactive in multiple stability tests.


Mountain Weather

Yesterday: Skies were clear, winds were light and temperatures were cold. Upper elevation highs were in the single digits to low teens and valley bottom lows were in the negative teens with the inversion. Valley fog conditions persisted. Clouds built in the late afternoon and temperatures increased a little overnight. 

Today: Is forecast to be partly to mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers and light southeast winds. Temperatures will be in the teens and low 20Fs. Skies clear again overnight. 

Tomorrow: Sunshine and cooling temperatures return Wednesday and will be the dominant weather through Friday. Stay tuned for a change over the weekend with a potential return, according to the National Weather Service to "warmer, wetter, and overall more unsettled weather as we head into next week".

*Seattle Ridge weather station was heavily rimed and the anemometer (wind sensor) was destroyed. We are currently working to replace it. 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880')  0  0  55
Summit Lake (1400')  -3     0  0   21 
Alyeska Mid (1700')  5     0   0  45


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812')  10  SW 16 
Seattle Ridge(2400')   11   *N/A *N/A   *N/A

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.

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