Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Thursday, January 9th 2014 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

Persistent slab concerns keep us at CONSIDERABLE above treeline.  The overall stability trend is very slowly improving, but large human triggered avalanches are still likely in specific areas.  Another avalanche near Summit Lake yesterday emphasizes that point.

Slopes above treeline, greater than 35 degrees, and in shallower areas or complex terrain should be avoided.  If an avalanche is triggered today, it is likely to be large, 2-3 feet deep, may be triggered remotely, and cause connected slopes to avalanche sympathetically.  

 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.
Avalanche Problem 1

The persistent slab problem continues to trend toward less likely, but large high consequence avalanches will result if triggered.  Snow pits are showing mixed results now...  Sometimes the layers are not reacting.  It's worth keeping in mind that all pit information is overruled by other signs and symptoms.  Collapsing, or recent avalanche activity means that the snowpack is inherently unstable, and steeper slopes can slide.  

The photo below is from yesterday on Tenderfoot at Summit lake. Click here for a writeup and another photo. The Summit region is often a poor comparison to Turnagain Pass or Girdwood, but right now it represents what any shallower snowpack areas can do.  This is another remotely triggered avalanche, one of many in the past week.

Recent snowfall (over 2 feet of wet snow in the last 10 days) has now consolidated into a fairly strong and connected slab.  This is good because it is now more difficult for a person's weight to penetrate that dense layer and collapse the weaker snow at or below the drizzle crust.  However, it's bad because the resulting avalanche when a trigger point is found is now larger and more dangerous.  The likelihood of triggering has decreased, but the avalanche size and destructive force has increased.

Trigger points are likely to be shallower wind stripped pockets, possibly close to exposed rocks or trees.  

Mountain Weather

A few inches of snow have accumulated since Tuesday.  In general, the weather has not contributed a lot to the avalanche danger since the larger storm on Saturday/Sunday.

Today, mostly cloudy skies are expected.  Isolated snow showers are in the forecast today and tomorrow, with little accumulation.  Wind should be light.  Temperatures continue in the 20s, with a slight decreasing trend on Friday.  

Watch for aurora displays tonight if the skies are clear enough.  A large solar storm may bring active displays to lower latitudes.  

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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