Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Thursday, March 14th 2013 6:36 am by Graham Predeger
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger will start out low and trend toward MODERATE at all elevations as increased snowfall and easterly winds move through the Turnagain Pass area today.  Fresh wind slabs, small storm snow avalanches and potential cornice fall will all be possible today, though should prove manageable with good terrain choices.

 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

In the last 48 hours we have seen some big lines skied between Girdwood and Turnagain Pass; it’ll be a good idea to approach big terrain with extra caution today until you can answer the question: How well is todays new storm snow and fresh wind slabs bonding with yesterdays snow surface?  Forecasters found the gamut of surface conditions yesterday from impenetrable crusts at lower elevations to stiff wind board and soft wind textured powder growing surface hoar and facets at upper elevations.  Lots of quick hasty snowpits (hand pits or pole pits) to look at the storm interface may give you good information today before committing to a specific slope. 

Wind slabs forming yesterday and today are expected to be shallow in the 6-18” range proving manageable in most terrain, however pockets still exist where deeper, large avalanches are possible in isolated areas (see photo below).  As always, escape routes and zones of safety are critical when recreating in these mountains.


6-8’ hard slab likely ran on a buried crust sometime between March 8th and March 11th. Debris was 10-15’ deep at the toe of this avalanche.  This is a good example of a large, unmanageable avalanche that can be found in isolated areas. Notice how low on the slope the crown face is; likely due to 100+ mph winds last Thursday loading this slope well below the ridgeline.

Avalanche Problem 2

Cornice fall is still very much on our radar and will be a genuine concern again today.  The good news with cornices is that they are generally easy to manage.  The fact that we can see them means we can avoid them, and avoidance is key.  Don’t spend excessive time underneath cornices and stay much further back than you think necessary when travelling along a corniced ridge.  Cornice fall is quite unpredictable, but expect them to become more unstable late in the day as temperatures and any direct sunlight warm the snow surface.

If you haven’t read Wendy’s write up on the large cornice fall and subsequent avalanche in the Goldpan area, take a few minutes and check it out here.

Mountain Weather

Three days in a row of sunshine and blue sky in the backcountry produced a lot of smiles in the parking lots for those of us lucky enough to find a day off mid-week. Today we can expect moderate winds from the east in the 20-35mph range and mostly obscured skies as a weak surface low moves through our area.  Snow is expected throughout the day in the eastern Turnagain Arm region with totals in the 4-8” range.  Temperatures look to stay cool enough that snow is expected at sea level.

We may squeeze another inch or two of snow out tonight as this low dissipates and skies begin clearing again overnight and into tomorrow.

Fitz will issue the next advisory Friday morning, March 15th.

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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