Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Saturday, January 4th 2014 7:00 am by Kevin Wright
Updated: Jan 4th 11:53 am
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

**************************12pm update******************************************

An Avalanche Warning has been issued for the forecast area, beginning at 5pm today and ending at 5pm Sunday January 5th.  Hazard will increase to HIGH at the end of the day and remain elevated into tomorrow.


Our condolences go out to the family that lost a dog in an avalanche on Tincan yesterday.  Numerous avalanches were reported over the last 2 days.  Combined with a storm coming in today, the danger rating is CONSIDERABLE for persistent slab and storm snow concerns.  The danger rating will increase as the storm snow builds today.

The avalanche problem as we saw yesterday is undeniably dangerous.  Avalanches are ripping out remotely, large, and full depth.  Extra caution is absolutely essential through the weekend and steep terrain should be avoided completely.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
3 Considerable Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
2 Moderate Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
2 Moderate Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Special Announcement

Thanks to everyone who sent us observation information from the last couple days.  This is potentially life-saving information for all backcountry users this weekend.

Avalanche Problem 1

A busy couple days in the backcountry brought a lot of avalanche activity through Turnagain Pass and Summit.  On Thursday a group of skiers triggered at least 5 disconnected avalanches remotely from the ridge (See color picture below).  Yesterday, a dog triggered an avalanche on the lower part of Tincan ridge (black and white photo below).  Despite the search efforts of at least a dozen people, the dog was not found and is presumed dead.  For reference, this is the same slide path that slid almost exactly a year ago.

Other reported avalanches include - Eddies, south and west aspectsSunburst - SW aspectSeattle ridge - Bowl 2.  (Click on links to go to observations and more photos)

These avalanches are sliding on older and deeper weak layers.  Once they get moving the entire depth of the snowpack can get stripped out.  They are unmanageable in size, will trigger remotely, and can connect across large distances.  

Terrain management is key to safe travel this weekend.  This means stay off steep slopes and avoiding terrain traps and complex terrain.



Black and white photo - lower CFR, Tincan ridge.  Crown at 2300 feet elevation

Upper Tincan ridge.  Crowns near 3500 feet elevation.

Avalanche Problem 2

New storm snow will exacerbate the persistent slab problem today as new stress gets added to the snowpack.  By late today, the storm snow on its own may be deep enough to be its own distinct problem.  

With over a foot of snow expected (possibly 2+ feet), we can expect natural avalanche activity to start late today and continue over night.  We will likely reach HIGH avalanche danger during the peak of this storm.

Mountain Weather

The last major storm was over the Dec 31st/Jan 1st holiday.  Since then conditions have been mild and pleasant.

A big change is in the forecast today.  A powerful storm is directing a moisture laden southern jet stream from warm lower latitudes straight at southcentral Alaska.  The picture below describes the scenario far better than I could in words.  

Snowfall is expected to start this morning and increase in intensity this afternoon and into the evening.  Wind will be associated with this storm with a ridgetop wind from the East at 56-73mph.  Rain at sea level is expected, transitioning to snow at 300-400 feet.  Storm totals are predicted in the 16"-29" range for the next 24 hours.  

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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