Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 19th 2019 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE above 2500’ for slab avalanches 1-2’ thick. Triggering a small slab in isolated terrain or a larger slab that could bury a person is possible on steep slopes. Cornices grew last week and could be triggered by the weight of a person or snowmachine. Identify glide cracks and avoid/limit your exposure time under this unpredictable hazard.

SUMMIT LAKE / JOHNSON 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, especially in terrain that has seen recent wind-loading. 

 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
  • *Early Bird Special*  tickets are only $25 for the 5th annual SNOWBALL until midnight January 25!! Get them now, this show has always sold out! Snowball is our fun way of saying thank you and celebrating another great season together.


  • For the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center Saturday Advisory click HERE and recent observations click HERE.

Avalanche Problem 1

Persistent Slabs

Almost Certain
Very Likely


Very Large


Although sunny and quiet weather conditions have been over the area for 2 days, there is still the possibility of triggering a lingering slab. Winds, along with several inches of snow, on Wednesday formed slabs that are sitting on weak facets and possibly even buried surface hoar in places. This is the problem, that slabs could be taking more time to stabilize due to the persistent grain type that lies under them. Slab thickness is variable - from 3" to a foot in general with wind loaded zones that could harbor a section of 2' slab. Keeping close tabs on the top of the snowpack is key.

Quick hand and/or pole tests to determine stiffer snow over weaker snow as well as watching for cracking around you are ways to asses a slab over a weak layer. Keep in mind smaller and harder slabs could be lurking in steep rocky terrain as well as larger and more connected slabs in bigger terrain. Be suspect of wind-loaded features and as always, evaluate the terrain for consequences and use safe travel protocols.


South of Turnagain - Johnson Pass/Summit Lake zone: A very poor snowpack structure exists in these areas.  Multiple mid-pack weak layers of facets and buried surface hoar have been found as well as a facet/crust combination in the bottom of the snowpack. No recent avalanche activity has been observed since the New Year’s storm, but more uncertainty exists for triggering a deeper more dangerous avalanche. If you're headed this way, it will be important to evaluate terrain and snowpack as you travel. Be on the lookout for signs of instability and maintain extra caution around wind-loaded slopes. 

Surface conditions between 2,500 and 3,000' on Magnum's West face. Small roller balls are old, from Wednesday's warm and windy weather. (photo: Trip Kinney)

Additional Concern

Glide Avalanches

Glide cracks are still slowly opening. Although we have not heard/seen one of these release for over a week now, limiting exposure under them remains wise. Known areas with cracks are Eddies, Tincan, Sunburst, Magnum, Cornbiscuit, Lipps, Seattle Ridge, Johnson Pass, Lynx Creek, Summit Lake, Petersen Creek, and Girdwood. This avalanche hazard is unpredictable and cracks can release without warning. 

Glide cracks on the SW aspect on Magnum, photographed Thursday Jan 17 by Peter Smith.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday:  Clear skies with dense valley fog in places were seen over the region. Temperatures were inverted with teens in valley bottoms and mid-20'sF along ridgetops during the day. Winds were light and variable along ridgelines. Overnight, winds shifted to a more NW direction bringing in cooler air aloft.

Today:  Another clear sky day is on tap. Ridgetop winds are expected to remain light from the NW. The inversion is breaking down with the arrival of cooler air from the NW. Temperatures sit in the teens F at all elevations this morning where they are forecast to remain for the day. The exception is Summit Lake, where temperature have dropped into the single digits. 

Tomorrow:  The last day for this clear sky period is expected tomorrow. Temperatures will continue to decrease and single digits are expected. Clouds, warming temps and a chance for snow move in on Monday, while a higher chance for snowfall is forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday. 

 *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') 23  51 
Summit Lake (1400') 20 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 21  38 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 23  Variable 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 27  *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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