Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Sunday, December 1st 2013
Created: Dec 1st 6:41 am
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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.
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The Woodland Family
The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is LOW above and below treeline in the Turnagain Pass area. Caution should be exercised on steep slopes near ridgelines and peaks where isolated wind slabs exist and may be possible for a person to trigger.

This forecast will extend through tomorrow, Monday. The next advisory will be issued Tuesday morning, December 3rd.

Primary Concern

For anyone getting out in the mountains today, the main concern is triggering a lingering wind slab avalanche. These are isolated to the high elevation steep slopes (over 40deg) on north, south and east aspects.


With little new snow and moderate wind, our thin snowpack is in a holding pattern. The weak layers of earlier this month are still there, but the slabs are deteriorating to the point they are becoming weak layers themselves (picture below). The one exception is areas that have seen wind. Hard wind crusts and slabs are littered about above treeline, yet these are slowly deteriorating as well. Our focus now is on the weakening pack and how the next snowfall will react with it when it’s buried.


Well, we polished off November 2013 yesterday and I’d characterize it as a dry month with a few small weather events. This November was a bit similar to last year but quite different than two years ago. Below are comparisons of November snow data. If you would like to view the full charts and explanations of the numbers they are available on the ‘Weather History’ tab under ‘Weather’ above. 

November precipitation from the Turnagain Pass SNOTEL for the past three years below. Note: Average snow water equivalent for November is 4.9" - we are around half that for this year at 2.6".

Mountain Weather

We have a significant warm up occurring today to replace the frigid temperatures we have endured that last several days. During the past 24 hours, temperatures at the upper elevations have begun to climb from below zero into the teens (F), yet at 1,000ft single to minus single digits remain entrenched. Wind has been steady in the 5-10mph range with gusts to 25mph from the northwest.

For today (and into tomorrow) temperatures will continue to rise at the mid and upper elevations into the 20's F, however the cold air pooled in valleys will likely remain chilly. We should see clear skies and wind ~10mph with gusts in the 20’s from the northeast.

Many of us are looking into the weather crystal ball (weather prediction models) to see if the storm heading our way for the middle of the week will add any snow to our pack. It looks like it should give us a little something but it is still too early to tell. Until then, clear skies and warmer temperatures are on tap through Tuesday.


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.

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