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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Kevin Wright  
Wednesday, March 14th 2012
Created: Mar 14th 6:54 am
3 Considerable Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
3 Considerable Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
3 Considerable Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious routefinding and conservative decision-making essential.
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The Bottom Line
Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, March 14th at 7am. This will serve as 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).

BOTTOM LINE
New storm snow on top of weak older snow is producing CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger through the region. We can expect small to medium size natural avalanches in specific areas today. Human triggered avalanches will be likely above treeline and in areas receiving wind loading. Expert routefinding and conservative decision making will be essential to staying safe today.

ANNOUNCEMENT
Yesterday, Alaska had its first avalanche fatality of the year. Robert Liberman was killed while guiding heli-ski clients near Haines. One CNFAIC Staff person is reported as clinging to life from the same avalanche. We send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of those involved in this incident. While we dont have the same snowpack as Haines, its a poignant reminder of the risks we all take by traveling in the backcountry.

AVALANCHE DISCUSSION
Today is a huge weather change, and it deserves a healthy amount of respect for today and into the near future. This storm should be looked at differently than what weve had for the last 2 months, at least until we know how the new snow is going to react to the old surface snow. The surface snow was getting old and tired Surface crusts, faceting, surface hoar, and wind hardening were all prevalent to varying degrees depending on location. All of these substrates will act as a poor bonding surface for the new snow falling today.

Concern #1 Storm Snow
This is a no-brainer. Some areas have already gotten an inch of snow water equivalent since last night. That adds up to about a foot of new snow with wind loading, and snowfall is expected to continue today. As I mentioned before, we should expect this new snow to bond poorly to the underlying surface.

Concern #2 Wind Slab
Areas with higher wind velocities and wind catchment features will have the highest probability of causing problems. With continued snowfall today it will be difficult to climb safely to high elevation areas where wind slabs are more likely to be found. Yesterday we found a very touchy, yet shallow wind slab off the West face of Lips. The 3-4 inch slab on top of loose faceted snow propagated 50+ feet wide very easily. Today that slab will be 1-3 feet deep and much more dangerous.


MOUNTAIN WEATHER
A solid Southeast flow is bringing a stream of moisture to our region through Prince William Sound. As of 6am this morning, up to 1 foot of snow has fallen in the Girdwood valley with less in Turnagain Pass. Wind is picking up with gusts into the upper 40s at ridgetops.

Snow and strong wind is expected to continue all day today. AnCNFAIC Staff 5-10 inches is expected to fall through the daylight hours.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Chris will issue the next advisory Thursday morning. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

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: Mar 28, 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: OpenPlacer remains open but SKOOKUM DRAINAGE will close to motorized use on April 1st.
Skookum Drainage: OpenSKOOKUM DRAINAGE CLOSES TO MOTORIZED USE ON APRIL 1 annually as per the Chugach National Forest Plan document.
Turnagain Pass: Open
Twentymile: Open
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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