Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Friday, January 24th 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 avalanche hazard is HIGH today.  Large natural avalanches continue to occur in the forecast area.  Unsupportable snow in the lower elevations is currently making travel very difficult.  Warm temperatures and rain in the higher elevations warrant avoidance of avalanche terrain.  Given the potential (very large) size of avalanches, the hazard will remain elevated throughout the day. Travel in or under avalanche terrain is not recommended today.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
4 High Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
4 High Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
4 High Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
Special Announcement

Due to the recent extended period of rain and warm temperatures, the motorized areas around Turnagain Pass are closed until further notice.  Please check the Chugach National Forest website for the official statement.  We will provide updates at the bottom of this page as conditions change.

Avalanche Problem 1

The West face of Pyramid slid sometime yesterday afternoon.  This avalanche ran full path, approximately 3,000’ and took out what appears to be weak snow near the ground and the entire snowpack above it.

With over an inch of water that has fallen in the past 24 hours coupled with another .4” forecasted for today, expect very large natural avalanches like this to remain a possibility.  Avoidance is the only way around this avalanche problem for now.  As temperatures cool and precipitation diminishes over the weekend expect the likelihood of wet slab and wet loose avalanches to go down.

Up to 2,500' in elevation the snowpack was isothermal yesterday.  Temperatures overnight have remained elevated.  In addition to large wet slabs, expect wet loose avalanches in steeper terrain.  Avoid being in the runout of larger paths if you happen to find yourself in the lower elevations today.

Avalanche Problem 2

Above treeline the snowpack has been growing over the past week.  While our time on or near ridge lines has been limited of late, we know that rain in the lower elevations has equated to heavy snow above 3,000’.  The general snowpack structure is poor in the higher elevations, with weak snow sitting at the base.  Slabs up to 6’ in depth have the potential to release, take out entire slopes and run far.  As freezing levels climb and more precipitation falls today, the likelihood of deep unsurvivable slabs releasing will go up.

Additional Concern

Yesterday my partners and I were able to get a look up at several ridge lines.  Cornices have grown exponentially over the past week.  Similar to Deep Slabs and Wet Avalanches, cornices have the potential to drop onto slopes and trigger very large unsurvivable avalanches.  Avoid being in the runout of large avalanche paths today, especially those with large cornices looming above starting zones.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday brought a seventh day of warm and wet conditions.  Another ~1.3” of water in the form of rain fell in the Girdwood Valley.  Freezing levels climbed as high as 3,800’.  

Sunburst 24 hour summary:
29 F average, 32 F max
28 mph winds out of the East, gust to 74

Today expect another day of similar weather.  Up to an additional .4” of water will fall, winds will be out of the East at 25-35 mph with higher gusts.  Freezing level with climb as high as 4,000’ today.

Tomorrow will bring the first break in the wet weather.  Skies will clear with valley fog developing.  Temperatures will remain mild. 

The extended outlook points to a potential high pressure blocking pattern developing by the middle of next week.  Pray for snow!

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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