Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, March 2nd 2013 6:06 am by John Fitzgerald
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is MODERATE above and below treeline.  Above treeline loose unconsolidated snow will be easy to trigger in steep terrain, especially on sunlit aspects.  At the mid and lower elevations the potential exists to trigger isolated pockets of slab 1-3' deep.  The hazard will rise as warm temperatures and sunshine will make it easier to initiate avalanches today.

 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.
2 Moderate Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
2 Moderate Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1

Today watch for steep sunlit slopes to be the most likely place to trigger a loose snow avalanche.  Expect sluffs to become wet and increase in volume with the presence of sunshine and higher temps.  Yesterday my partner and I observed several natural loose snow avalanches in terrain over 40 degrees and we were able to initiate sluffs in this terrain as well.  Expect similar activity today and make sure that you are aware of the terrain below you.  If you see loose snow moving downhill with you or in front of you steer away from it at a gradual angle before it knocks you over.  Getting knocked down by these avalanches will have greater consequences when a person is above terrain traps such as cliffbands, gullies, or trees.  


Additional Concerns

Wind Slabs
Winds have been generally light over the past 24 hours.  There was a 4 hour window last night where Easterly winds increased enough to create new shallow wind slabs.  Older wind slabs formed during the past week are less likely to be an issue today.  Nonetheless, it is worth avoiding steep terrain where the combination of loose snow and isolated pockets of wind slab will be enough to knock you off of your feet or snowmachine.


Sun and warming will increase the chances of cornices breaking and dropping onto slopes today.  Give cornices a wide berth from below and above, as they can do a lot of damage to a person.

Avalanche Problem 2

The storms of the past week have put down 2-3 feet of "new" snow that is sitting on a crust.  In some areas weak snow sits on top of this crust that exists between ~1,500-3,000'.  Snowpit tests yesterday did not show this interface to be a serious concern on Turnagain Pass.  That could change today, as warm temperatures and sunshine will make it easier to trigger deeper avalanches on steep lower elevation slopes, and areas where the newest slab is thinner.  Areas with less overall snow (e.g. heading south towards Summit Lake and lower elevations in general) are where it is worth paying more attention to this problem today.

Mountain Weather

The mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm have picked up 2" of new snow containing .1" of water in the past 24 hours.  Winds have been generally light out of the E and SE averaging 8mph with gusts as high as 36mph.  Temperatures at 3,800' have averaged 18 degrees F and 25 degrees at 1,880'.

Today expect a mild and calm day in the mountains.  Sunshine and warm temps will be the most important weather factors today in terms of avalanche activity.  Expect periods of clear skies and temperatures to be in the high 30s at 1,000'.  Ridgetop winds will be light, coming out of the SE at 5-10mph.

The extended outlook calls for a mix of sun and clouds over the next several days with only a slight chance of snow.


Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, March 3rd.

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

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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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