Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, December 11th 2013 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

We continue to have an overall LOW avalanche danger in the mountains surrounding Turnagain Pass. Avalanche activity is unlikely. The main concerns for backcountry travelers are conditions associated with an early season and thin snow cover.

This advisory will extend through tomorrow, Wednesday. The next advisory will be Thursday morning, December 12th.

 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

The recent cold temperatures, after the early December warm spell, have essentially tied the surface of our snowpack together with a crust. The crust is unsupportable in most areas and breaking through into the weak sugar snow below can make skiing and riding challenging. You can see a few recent observations discussing this HERE and HERE.

Again, the main hazards in the backcountry are rocks and other objects near the snow surface. I would also argue that an additional hazard is negotiating the ‘ankle grabbing’ surface crust. 

Snowpack Discussion:
A layer of surface hoar has formed on the top of our snowpack during the past few days. This is anchored to the crust that caps the snowpack and forms a surface hoar/crust combination. Though the combo not dangerous now, it will have our attention when we get our next shot of snow and a slab forms on top. 

Surface hoar on Seattle Ridge (2,500'). Photo: Fitz                  Surface hoar on breakable crust near Ingram Creek. Photo: Bob Sutherland

Mountain Weather

During the past 24-hours we have been on the north side of a large low pressure system sitting well to our south. This has brought cloud cover but no precipitation to our zone. Temperatures have been in the 20’s F at most locations and wind light from the southeast.

This pattern will remain through the day before it breaks down and colder air ushers in from the north tomorrow. We can expect partly cloudy skies today with temperatures remaining in the mid to upper 20’s F across the board. We do have a chance for a few flurries. Winds will be light and variable before turning northeast tonight with the approach of the colder polar air. Wednesday we should see skies clear and temperatures in the teens and single digits with light northerly winds.

If you have read this far in the advisory you may be happy to hear that a shift in our weather pattern is coming this weekend. Confidence looks to be high at the NWS that a decent precipitation event is headed our way. Let’s cross our fingers the models are right. See their full discussion HERE.


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, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19
Placer River: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Skookum Drainage: ClosedPlacer access closed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed as of 5/6. Thanks for a great season all, see you next winter!
Twentymile: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed as of 3.22.19 due to lack of snow
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19 due to lack of snow
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for the 2018/19 season. Next season will be open to motorized use.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClose as of 5.1.2019
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Summit Lake: Closed

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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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