Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Kevin Wright  
Thursday, November 28th 2013
Created: Nov 28th 6:04 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
Alaska Alpine Adventures LLC
Special Announcement

All of Chugach National Forest remains closed to off-road motorized use due to a lack of sufficient snow cover.  Snowmachines will be permitted when the snow is deep enough to protect the ground underneath.

The Bottom Line

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few inches of fresh dry snow yesterday will not be changing the overall avalanche danger.  Above treeline remains MODERATE, for smaller reactive slabs in wind loaded areas.  The backcountry is slowly moving towards stable, in fact the more important safety issue is probably related to exposed rocks and trees with thin snow cover.  

Below treeline is LOW danger with very shallow snow coverage.

Primary Concern

When you take your skis off and try to walk around in your boots, the lack of strength in the snowpack is instantly apparent.  My boots sank through all the layers, only stopping at the ground a little more than 2 feet down.  The slab/weak layer combination is still the same as it was last Friday, but not nearly as unstable as it was then.  The same equation is there, with stronger and denser storm snow from Nov. 21st on top of very weak and loose faceted snow.  The reason why we don't have a big problem at the moment is that the relatively denser slab layer is actually quite soft and not very strong or cohesive compared to the weak layer underneath.  This snowpack still has the potential to become dangerous if we got a wet/heavy storm, but until then the avalanche danger will be isolated.  

Our snowpit tests indicated relatively good stability.  An extended column test revealed no tendency to propagate.  If someone were to venture into steeper wind loaded terrain, I wouldn't be surprised to hear of reactive wind loaded pockets.  The main deterrent from going those places will be thin snowcover and exposed rocks rather than the avalanche conditions.  Click here for a more detailed writeup on the pit profile below.

Mountain Weather

Turnagain Pass received roughly the same amount of snow yesterday as Anchorage did.  That 3-5 inches of light, dry snow certainly improved the surface conditions, but still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of adequate snow depth.  

It looks like our precipitation is shut off for the next few days.  We can expect colder temperatures by this evening, remaining in the single digits or teens for the rest of the holiday weekend.  Expect a moderate NW wind in the mountains today, 25-45mph.  Clouds today will give way to clear skies by this evening.  

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: Apr 11, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenPlease park on road in and leave the turnaround (near outhouse) open for trailers to turn around.
Placer River: OpenWide swaths of open river in the Placer Valley. Travel with extreme caution!
Skookum Drainage: ClosedSKOOKUM DRAINAGE CLOSED TO MOTORIZED USE ON APRIL 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: ClosedClosed for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Primrose Trail: OpenPlease STAY ON existing and hardened trail surface through the lower sections of this route.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for 2016/17 winter season. This is a non-motorized season. This alternates every other year and will open again during the 2017/18 winter.
Snug Harbor: Open
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
Summit Lake: Open

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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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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