Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, April 10th 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 generally LOW throughout the region. Keep in mind, glide avalanches are still a concern and can release at anytime. Continue to watch for and avoid/limit travel under glide cracks. Additionally, give cornices a wide berth while traveling along ridgelines. Triggering a wet loose sluff may be possible on steep sunny slopes later in the day and shallow winds slabs could be found on high elevation leeward slopes. 

GIRDWOOD VALLEY:  Wet loose sluffs composed of the 4-10" of new snow from the past several days may be seen on steep sunny slopes. Also, watch for stubborn wind slabs up to a foot thick in the higher elevations.

PORTAGE VALLEY:  Summer trails with large steep slopes overhead, such as the Byron Glacier Trail, provide easy access for accidentally being in a dangerous place. Large cornices and wet loose avalanches can occur far above on hot afternoons/evenings that could send debris to valley floors and threaten hikers. Travel in these areas is not recommended without avalanche training to recognize, and avoid, the overhead threat.

 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

As the saying goes, low danger doesn't mean no danger. Despite the clearer skies, cooler temperatures and a good re-freeze on the surface overnight; there are still a few 'normal caution' avalanche issues to be aware of if heading into the hills. These are:

GLIDE AVALANCHES:  Although it has been several days since we have seen a glide crack release into an avalanche in high traveled zones, avoiding/limiting travel under cracks is prudent! They can release at anytime, are completely unpredictable and can be very destructive. The good news is, they are easy to avoid if you look for them as they show their cards with a large brown crack. 

CORNICE FALLS:  Daytime warming will help to de-stabilize cornices. As always, and especially in the spring, give cornices an extra wide berth.

WET LOOSE:  Wet sluffs on steep warm sunny slopes could be triggered today - if the sun stays out long enough this afternoon. This is most likely on upper elevation southerly slopes that have a few new inches of snow from over the weekend.

WIND SLABS:  Some areas received enough snow over the weekend to blow into shallow wind slabs (North end of Turnagain Pass, Girdwood Valley and Portage areas). These slabs could still be sensitive on shaded slopes above 3,000'. Watching for areas of wind drifted snow and cracking in the snow will be key. Even small wind slabs can be dangerous in high consequence terrain.

Looking ahead, stormy weather is on the way and expect avalanche danger to increase tomorrow, Thursday.

Seattle Ridge on Sunday, Apr 7. Many glide cracks still hang in the balance despite the many glide avalanches that have released on this ridgeline.

The Cornice Line on Sunburst Ridge yesterday. Although some cornices have shed much of their bulk during the March storms, many cornices remain large and waiting to peel off. 


Video link HERE.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday:  Partly cloudy skies were over the region. Light rain fell in Portage Valley (.3") while no measureable precipitation was recorded for Turnagain Pass or Girdwood. Ridgetop winds were easterly 10-20mph during the day before quieting down to the 5mph range overnight. Temperatures climbed to near 30F along ridgelines and the low 40'sF at 1,000' before dropping overnight into the 20'sF at most elevations. 

Today:  Mostly clear skies are expected over the region with high clouds, and possibly light showers, moving in later this afternoon. Ridgetop winds are light and easterly this morning but forecast to rise into the 10-20mph by this evening. Clear skies last night allowed temperatures to cool into the 20's at the low elevations and should bounce back into the 40'sF by this afternoon. Ridgetop temperatures look to climb into the low 30's with daytime warming.

Tomorrow:  A large low pressure system churning in the Northern Pacific will push a frontal wave over our area Thursday. Heavy rain up to 1,500' with wet snow above is expected along with strong easterly winds (50-60mph). Snowfall amounts in the high elevations look to be in the 5-10" range at this point. For Friday, cloudy skies, light showers and decreasing winds are expected as the storm slowly moves out.

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

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 35  62 
Summit Lake (1400') 33  19 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 35  57 


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

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 26  NE  32
Seattle Ridge(2400') 31  SE  14 

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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