Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Thursday, December 5th 2013 7:00 am by Kevin Wright
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

Low avalanche danger continues in the mountains of Turnagain Pass.  The snowpack consists of weak shallow snow with pockets of unreactive wind slab at higher elevations.  Freezing rain and warming temperatures are the big weather news for today.  Those changes will likely not cause much change to the bigger picture in terms of snow stability for today.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
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.
Special Announcement

Anchorage School District schools are closed today due to dangerous driving conditions and freezing rain.  Be safe on the roads if you plan to head to the mountains today.

Avalanche Problem 1

If I had to pick one of our avalanche problems to talk about a primary concern, then wind slab would be the one.  We have not seen any pockets with a tendency to pop under the weight of a person.  Even in the places where stiff surface snow can be found, it has a stubborn, low tension nature.  

In areas that are not exposed to wind, the snowpack is 15-30 inches of weak faceted snow.  The cold and clear temperatures combined with shallow snow have formed a steep temperature gradient and changed the snow to big sugary crystals.

The snowpack is shallow...  Exposed rocks and vegetation are abundant.  That lack of coverage is probably the biggest safety concern for skiers and snowboarders in the backcountry right now.

Mountain Weather

It has been nearly a week since significant snowfall.  Cold temperatures and clear skies gave way to a big change yesterday, but not the white stuff that we were hoping for.  Temperatures at some ridgetop weather stations are above freezing this morning.  A freezing rain advisory is in effect for Anchorage and the greater region, including Girdwood and the Kenai peninsula.  Driving conditions deteriorated yesterday evening with a slick glaze of ice on the roads, and that freezing rain will continue today.  

Freezing rain is expected to form a surface crust on our snowpack.  This isn't an avalanche concern for now, but may become a weak layer interface when the crust gets buried by later snow storms.  

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: Oct 05, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed. Will be open for the 2019/20 season pending adequate snow cover.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed

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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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