Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Kevin Wright  
Tuesday, November 26th 2013
Created: Nov 26th 5:54 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.
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.
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
Chugach Powder Guides
Special Announcement

Join Wendy Wagner tonight at 630 at the Girdwood Ranger Station for the first of the Fireside Chat series.  This free lecture will cover the topic - Introduction to avalanches and Terrain and Route Finding.

The Bottom Line

The MODERATE danger rating above treeline is going to stay with us due to the persistent nature of our problem.  Natural avalanche activity is unlikely, but skier triggered avalanches are possible on steeper slopes in the higher elevations.  Due to thin snow cover, avalanches have been relatively low volume despite reasonably large propagation width in the last few days.  Slab depth is ranging from 6"-20".  

Below treeline is LOW danger with very thin snow coverage and crust.

The next advisory will be on Thursday, Thanksgiving day.  We do not expect major changes in the forecast for Wednesday.  

Primary Concern

The old surface that we were skiing a week ago is the current weak layer, with the November 21st storm snow failing on those loose faceted grains.  See this observation for a detailed look at the snowpack structure.  Since the storm on Friday we have had 3 decent avalanches reported to us, and keep in mind that few people are skiing south of Anchorage right now.  All of these avalanche events are behaving in a similar nature, breaking on the storm interface from November 21st.  The storm snow is heavier and denser than the underlying layer of weak faceted snow, making this failure easy to identify in snowpit tests.  Reports from a couple days ago were identifying failure on isolation or with very light force.  

The picture below is actually from the Summit Lake area, but shows a similar problem farther south on the Kenai.  See this observation for another picture from that reported avalanche.

We expect this kind of avalanche potential to stay for a little while longer.  Time, warm temperatures, and continued storm cycles will eventually fix the problem.  Until then, caution is warranted when deciding where to go right now.  Also keep in mind that the snowpack is shallow.  Rocks and trees are barely covered, if at all.  

Mountain Weather

There is no new snow in the last 24 hours.  Temperatures are in the high 20s.  Wind is light.  

The National Weather Service continues to have light snowfall in the forecast.  1-3 inches of snow is possible today as a weak surface low enters Prince William Sound this morning.  

Temperatures will stay near freezing in the mountains and perhaps rising above freezing near sea level.  Wind will stay light and variable, 10-20 mph.

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: Dec 08, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedRain and snow have fallen in Turnagain Pass this week, but not enough to open for snowmachining. Continue to check back to this site for updates.
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

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
© 2017 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.