Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, January 22nd 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

Another day, another pulse of warm, wet, and windy.  

We have two distinct problems at different elevation levels.  Down low the rain and warm temperatures are destabilizing the snow by reducing the strength of the snowpack.  Up high we continue to get snow and our more common types of avalanche problems.  These elevational differences are distinct, but equally dangerous to the backcountry traveler.

With ongoing active weather the danger rating will be CONSIDERABLE at all elevations again today.  Large, full depth avalanches are still being reported in our region.  Terrain steeper than 35 degrees should be avoided.

 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.
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.
Avalanche Problem 1

The first avalanche problem that you will encounter from the trailhead is wet snow.  The freezing line is reaching up to 2000 feet or higher.  Water saturated snow is heavy and weaker than drier snow.  This problem will be found below treeline, in terrain often considered "safer" from avalanche danger.  Read more about Wet Slab Avalanches here.

Photo from January 21st showing low elevation terrain and several natural avalanches on Seattle ridge. Photo by Katie Johnston.

Avalanche Problem 2

Above treeline we are accumulating significant snowfall through this warm storm cycle.  The weak layers at or near the ground are now buried fairly deep (4-6 feet) and continue to be a problem for large and dangerous avalanches.  

While we continue to have warm temperatures and snowfall, any steep terrain that could produce a dry deep slab avalanche should be avoided.  We have many reports from the last 2 weeks of remotely triggered and natural avalanches on these old weak layers.  The frequency of these events is decreasing, but the size is increasing as the snowpack builds.  

Additional Concern

Above 2000 feet we will be getting more snow today.  The National Weather Service is predicting up to a foot of new snow at higher elevations.  With ongoing snowfall we need to wary of unstable storm snow in the top layers of the snowpack.  This will be more pronounced in areas of stiff wind slab.  

Mountain Weather

In the last 24 hours we received roughly 0.5 inch SWE (5 inches snow) at Turnagain Pass and over 1.5 inches SWE (15 inches snow estimate) at Alyeska.  Wind was strong yesterday morning, with gusts into the 90s mph, but tapered down to the 30s and 40s for much of yesterday.  Temperatures are consistently warm, in the 40s F at sea level and only reaching freezing (32 F) near 2500 feet elevation.  

Today, we have another pulse of moisture headed our way.  Roughly an inch of water is expected today, with another 1/2 inch tonight.  Snow line will be near 2000 feet.  Wind is from the southeast from 52-65mph.  

This pattern is expected to continue the rest of the week until Saturday when the first break in the weather appears in the forecast.  

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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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