Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, January 15th 2014 7:00 am by John Fitzgerald
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The general avalanche hazard is MODERATE above and below treeline.  In the upper elevations the hazard will rise to CONSIDERABLE later in the day as new snow falls.  Slabs up to 2 feet in depth could be triggered today in steep wind loaded starting zones.

The potential remains for triggering deeper weak layers in the snow.  Avalanches in the new snow could step down to layers near the bottom of the snowpack, with slab depths over 3 feet possible.

 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.
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Avalanche Problem 1

It will be important to pay attention to the following weather factors today:
Yesterday we found new snow amounts above treeline to be in the 6-8” range.  Snowfall should pick up again this morning across the forecast area.   As much as an additional 6” of new snow will fall in the higher elevations today.  
Winds overnight blew out of the West (17 mph average with gusts to 50mph). In the higher elevations today winds out of the East and Southeast will help to build isolated pockets of fresh wind slab up to 2 feet on leeward slopes.  Snow will be most reactive on steep slopes and during times of peak precipitation intensity.

Bonding in the new snow was generally good yesterday.  Quick hand shears, pole tests and looking for shooting cracks will allow you to assess how well the new snow is bonding.  If you notice cracks radiating away from you on the surface, this is a sign that the new snow is unstable.  Staying off of steep slopes, especially along ridge crests and above gullies will help in minimizing exposure to avalanches within the storm snow today.

Avalanche Problem 2

With our focus on how the new snow is bonding and reacting, it can be easy to forget about the dragon lurking well below the surface.  The weak foundation of the snowpack has been able to adjust to the most recent load.  Continued loading at a relatively slow rate will keep the likelihood of triggering a deeper weak layer on the low end of the scale.  Don’t let lack of action near the surface fool you.  The potential still exists for weak snow near the ground to be reactivated, especially on slopes that are able to produce avalanches in the new snow.  Slab depths up to 3.5’ in depth have the potential to propagate across slopes and do a lot of damage.

Mountain Weather

In the past 24 hours the mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm have picked up 2-3” of new snow with .1-.2” of water equivalent.  Winds have come from a variety of directions averaging 17 mph with gusts to 50 mph.  There was a 6 hour period overnight that saw moderate to strong winds out of the West.  Ridgetop temperatures have averaged in the low 20s F.

Today will bring another pulse of moisture, with up to 6” of new snow possible by evening.  Winds will be out of the Southeast at 10-20mph.  Ridegtop temperatures will remain in the low to mid 20s F.

A series of strong low pressure systems to our South and West will continue to bring precipitation to the area.  Temperatures will be on the rise as we head towards the weekend.  The next chance for more intense precipitation looks to arrive on Friday.

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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