Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   John Fitzgerald  
Monday, March 4th 2013
Created: Mar 4th 5:47 am
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.
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
Special Announcement

CNFAIC forecaster John Fitzgerald will be giving a free talk on avalanche awareness including the art and science of public avalanche forecasting at REI in Anchorage on Tuesday March 5, 2013 at 6pm.  Visit for more information.

The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is LOW in many areas today.  The most recent round of snowfall that occured last week has shown to be well bonded to older snow surfaces in most areas.  The hazard will be MODERATE in upper elevation starting zones, below cornices and as temperatures climb above freezing at the lower elevations today.

Primary Concern

While it has been several days since any significant snowfall has accumulated, recent ridgetop winds have been high enough to blow snow around and create fresh wind slabs.  Expect to encounter these slabs in upper elevation starting zones.  Be on the lookout for snow that feels hollow or looks smooth and pillowy.  These slabs will be confined to smaller pockets but will be up to a foot in depth.

Additional Concerns

Warm temperatures and sunshine helped to release several cornices in the forecast area on Saturday.  While cloud cover will help to lower the likelihood of natural cornice releases today, warm temps and recent winds will conspire to make this a real problem in the mountains today.  A cornice triggered avalanche that occurred on Magnum on Saturday is a prime example of why it is important to know what is above you when traveling up a valley.  

Loose Snow avalanches
Wet loose snow will be moving under the influence of a person's weight today.  Avoiding steep terrain as the snow surface becomes more damp will be the best way to avoid this problem.   This problem will be more pronounced in the lower elevations.

Secondary Concern

A weak layer of snow sitting on a crust at the mid elevations (1,500'-3,000') continues to be a concern.  This weak layer/crust combo is buried 2-6 feet deep and has shown to be less of a problem on Turnagain Pass but more pronounced in outlying areas such as Summit Lake and the Girdwood, 20 Mile and Placer Valleys.   With rising temperatures this interface is more of a concern, as it will become easier for a person or snowmachine to affect these deeper layers.  As with all of the concerns today, pay attention to the thermometer and back off steep terrain as things warm up.

Mountain Weather

The mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm have picked up just a trace to 1" of new snow in the past 24 hours.  Temperatures have been mild, with high 30s F at sea level, mid 20s F at 2,400', and low 20s F at 3,800'.  The Seattle Ridge weather station has been reporting winds averaging in the mid to high 20 mph range out of the SE with gusts to 46.

Today expect mostly cloudy skies and temperatures warming to 37 degrees F at 1,000'.  Winds will be out of the SE at 5-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph.  Snowfall amounts will be very light.

The extended outlook calls for continued mild temperatures and a mix of sun and clouds for the next several days.


Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning, March 5th.

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: Nov 18, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedOnly a few inches of snow sits at the motorized lot, not enough to open for snowmachining at this time. Updated Nov. 18, 2017
Twentymile: Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: Closed
Primrose Trail: Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedResurrection Pass trail is expected to open to snowmachine use during the 2017/18 winter season.
Snug Harbor: Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Closed
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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