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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Kevin Wright  
Saturday, January 25th 2014
Created: Jan 25th 6:43 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.
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
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Special Announcement

The Friends of the CNFAIC and the Rob Hammel family are sponsoring an avalanche education scholarship.  Deadline to apply is January 31st.  Go to this page for more information.  


The Bottom Line

A slight decrease in the danger rating is due to a temporary end in precipitation.  However, temperatures are holding steady or even increasing, which keeps the snowpack in an unstable condition.  CONSIDERABLE danger ratings can be found at all elevations.  The most dangerous areas are below the freezing line - 1000 to 3000 feet - in the zone where we still have a lot of snow but it's been saturated with rain over the last week.  

This is an unusual (for January) and very dangerous avalanche problem.  Large full depth natural avalanches have been seen every day this week.  The weather that we need to make the mountains significantly safer will be colder temperatures, which isn't in the cards for today. Traveling on and below steep terrain should be avoided today.


Primary Concern

One of the new big avalanches seen at Turnagain Pass was on Pete's North.  The Southwest face pulled out full depth sometime Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.  

As long as we have warm temperatures, this kind of avalanche is possible.  It's worth noting that these large destructive avalanches are happening across a huge region in southcentral Alaska.  Valdez is currently under seige with the Richardson highway closed (second photo below).  Check out this observation for more photos and video from the Summit Lake region.

Sun exposure today may have enough power to tip the balance on south facing slopes in the afternoon.

 

 

Pete's North

Keystone Canyon on the Richardson highway, Friday Jan 24th.  From the City of Valdez Facebook page.


Secondary Concern

At the bottom of our snowpack we still have weak snow from November that is making full depth avalanches a reality.  This is most obvious from 3000 feet elevation and below where rain-on-snow has created an especially difficult problem.  Even higher up, above the rain line, it's been snowing for more than a week.  The snowpack at higher elevations is finally getting deep, but stability is in question until we have evidence to suggest it won't slide.   Remember, before the storm that dumped many feet of snow on these slopes we had numerous natural and remote human triggered avalanches.  Now that the problem is buried deeper it may be harder to trigger but the consequences of resulting avalanches will be significantly worse.  


Mountain Weather

The hose of pacific moisture that's been hitting us for the past week has shifted back to the west for the time being.  Unseasonably warm temperatures continue today, some of the weather stations are currently at the highest we've seen all month.  Freezing level is expected to reach 4400 feet elevation again today.

Partly sunny skies are forecasted today.  Look for fog in the valleys.  Southeast to East wind blowing 42-61 mph at the ridgetops.  

6am temperatures

Center ridge snotel - 39 F

Sunburst - 32 F

Alyeska Max's mt - 34 F

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 15, 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: Open
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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