Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, January 16th 2013 6:17 am by Kevin Wright
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Previous ForecastNext Forecast
The Bottom Line

With calmer weather, colder temperatures, and less recent evidence of avalanche activity the danger rating drops to MODERATE today for the first time since December 23rd.  A significant amount of uncertainty still exists, and if an avalanche is triggered it may still be very large and dangerous.  Below treeline the danger is LOW.

 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

The primary concern is still the deep slab problem.  Just two days ago we had a number of very large avalanches, both in Turnagain Arm and Turnagain Pass.  Since that time the rain and snow stopped and the temperature dropped significantly.  Yesterday, just one day removed from the storm, a number of explosive triggers in Turnagain Arm had few significant results. 

The majority of the avalanche activity from the final burst of moisture seemed to be focused on steep, rocky terrain.  This gives us a good starting point on which to base our terrain choices.  The weak layer that may collapse to intiate an avalanche is unlikely to be affected by a skier in areas of deeper snow.  The likely "trigger points" will be shallower, where the stress of a person doesn't have to penetrate through as much strong snow.  Steep north facing lines, complex terrain with chutes and ribs, and generally shallower areas should be avoided today.  This problem should be approached by traveling where the snow is deepest, and testing it where it is thinnest to gauge the worst case scenario.

Yesterday our pit tests on Sunburst found the same weak base layer that has plagued us for most of the season.  The general feel of the layering structure isn't much different from what we've been seeing.  However, the force require to initiate a collapse was significantly greater than it was a week ago.  The bad news is that it still collapses, and it still propagates.  This tells us that triggering a collapse is less likely, but if it happens, a large avalanche is still very possible. 

Pictured below is the before and after of Alpenglow peak which slid on Monday.


Avalanche Problem 2

Above treeline there was wind during the last storm system.  Ridges have a stiff, windblown character to them.  Deeper and stiffer snow will be found on the lee side of terrain features.  We don't have a lot of evidence to suggest that windslabs will be unstable, but it is something to watch out for. 

Mountain Weather

The last major storm system left us on early Monday, giving us more than 48 hours since significant precipitation.  Temperatures have dropped since that time, freezing the rain and wet snow that fell below 2000 feet into a surface crust. 

Today, 3-5 inches of snow is in the forecast with light wind.  Temperatures should remain below freezing.  The weather today is not expected to contribute much to the avalanche problem. 

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, 2018 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed as of April 20th
Placer River: ClosedClosed as of April 17th
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed as of April 1st.
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed as of May 7th. Happy summer, see ya when the snow flies!
Twentymile: ClosedClosed as of April 13th
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed as of 4/27
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed as of April 13th
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed as of April 13th
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed as of April 20th
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed as of 4/27
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed as of April 13th
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed as of April 20th

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
© 2018 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.