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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Tuesday, January 14th 2014
Created: Jan 14th 6:41 am
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.
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The Bottom Line

Today we have a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger on steep slopes (over 35 degrees) at the upper elevations. This elevated danger is in areas that receive 10" or more of new snow. There is a MODERATE danger below treeline and in areas receiving less snow accumulation. As of this morning, we have around 6-8" of new snow which has come in with strong East winds. This has not only created wind slabs up to 10-16" thick, but may also be enough to overload weak snow near the ground. If these weak layers are overloaded, the resulting avalanche could be 3' deep with wide propagation. Hence - steep slopes with wind deposited snow are places to avoid today.

Safer places to recreate will be the flats and lower angle slopes (less than 35 degrees).


Primary Concern

The combination of 6+" of new snow overnight (with an additional 3-5" today) and strong Easterly wind will give us a classic storm snow avalanche situation. Due to the wind, we should see most of the storm snow avalanches in the form of wind slabs. Expect these to be in the 10-16" range and likely becoming more sensitive, and thicker, with elevation.

Sluffing in the new snow as well as soft slabs in areas out of the wind will be possible. Temperatures have been warming during snowfall which will give the new snow an upside down nature. The warm temperatures will also help the new snow stick to itself as well as the old snow surface and these storm snow instabilities should settle out rather quickly. Hand pits are a good way to suss out these surface instabilities.

Stepping down:
Keep in mind that any storm snow avalanche has the possibility to trigger a larger slab 2-3' deep that breaks in the weak snow near the ground.

Lower elevations - below 1,500 feet: 4-6" of wet snow has fallen on surface crusts. Watch for very steep slopes to have some wet snow point release avalanches and shallow slabs.


Secondary Concern

The shock of up to an inch of water weight (~10" of snow) onto our tenuous snowpack will be as much of a concern today as the storm snow issues mentioned above. This load is not huge by any means but areas with wind loading may see double the load - and that is substantial.

For the past two weeks we have seen the weak snow that makes up the bottom foot of the snowpack slowly adjust to the 2-3' dense slab above it. Will this storm reactivate those buried weak layers? With each passing storm that is the question. This storm is likely not enough to induce a natural avalanche cycle, but in specific areas with greater snow amounts and wind loading the scale could be tipped. 

To reiterate the Bottom Line - upper elevation steep slopes with wind loading are key areas to avoid today. 


Mountain Weather

It is a pleasure to finally report some new snow. We had 6" fall last night (.6" water equivalent) and expect another 3-5" (.4 water) through the day. This is at the mid-elevations (treeline) so greater amounts are likely above treeline. Temperatures on the ridgetops have averaged in the upper teens F during the past 24-hours with sea level temperature in the mid 30's F. Ridgetop winds have been 20-30mph with gusts up to 64mph from the East.

Today another system is developing that will add a shot of snow (3-5") above treeline with a rain/snow mix below ~700'. Associated winds will be Easterly in the 30mph range with stronger gusts. Temperatures should remain warm with ridgetops in the low 20's and sea level upper 30's F. 

For anyone keeping tabs on the extended forecast, it is clear we are beginning a transition to a large scale warm southerly flow with embedded disturbances. This will bring off and on precipitation to our area. How much snow and/or rain is determined by where these disturbances develop so stay tuned.

 

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 )

AREA STATUS WEATHER AND RIDING CONDITIONS
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.


USFS SNOW AND AVALANCHE HOTLINE (907) 754-2369
If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email staff@chugachavalanche.org
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