Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, January 26th 2014 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

We have a HIGH avalanche danger today at all elevations and all aspects. The large, destructive, un-survivable avalanches that have been occurring the past several days are likely to continue.  These avalanches are full depth and running up to 3,000 vertical feet. With the continued warm weather we are seeing an avalanche cycle similar to that in the springtime - when the pack sheds its snow cover.

Avoidance is the best tactic right now and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. This includes staying well away from runout zones. 

 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

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

Avalanche Problem 1

Wet slab and wet loose avalanches remain our primary concern once again today. The snowpack is wet, unconsolidated and literally falling apart. Today is our 9th day of unseasonably warm weather and last night was our warmest yet. We hit 54F at Portage, 40F at 2,400' on Seattle Ridge and 37F at 3,800' on Sunburst to name a few.

We did see large natural avalanche activity yesterday and I suspect it continued during the overnight hours with the spike in temperature. Most of yesterday’s activity was in the form of wet slab or wet loose at elevations below 3,500'. The one exception was a large deep slab with a start zone near 6,000' that is suspected to be more of a dry slab avalanche. The rundown of yesterday's larger avalanche activity:


Photo below is of Raggedtop - sent in by Andy Dietrick, Alyeska Snow Safety program


Natural activity from yesterday on Seattle Ridge


The warm temperatures and rain on snow for over a week have combined to destabilize the snowpack. Yesterday was the first clear day with no added precipitation, but the warm conditions combined with the sun and wind seemed to tip the balance. Today the clouds and rain are back but the very warm temperatures will continue to destabilize the pack.

Avalanche conditions aside, travel conditions are difficult. The snowpack is isothermal and unsupportable with a variable and breakable surface crust.

Avalanche Problem 2

At upper elevations (roughly above 3,500') where snow has been falling for the past nine days we have a deep slab avalanche problem. We have received around 6-10' of new snow which has overloaded the weak snow near the ground in many areas. The clear skies yesterday allowed for a good look at all the large avalanche activity from the past week. Check out these observations HERE and HERE for some of the older activity.

We did have one deep slab release yesterday on Goat Mtn (mentioned above and pictured below).

Additional Concern

Cornices have grown substantially during the past two weeks. With these warm temperatures cornices are likely to start falling and could easily trigger a large avalanche below.

Mountain Weather

Yesterday's sunny and warm weather made it feel like springtime in January. Temperatures reached the mid 50's F at sea level and the mid to upper 30's F on the ridgetops. There was a spike in temperature during the overnight hours. Winds continued from the East with averages in the 30-40mph range. 

Today we will see clouds move in as another pulse of moisture approaches from the South. Rain below 4000' should start falling this morning with up to .2" accumulating through the day (2" of snow above 4,000'). Temperatures should remain warm - mid 50’sF at sea level and mid 30's to 40F on ridgetops. Winds continue to be strong from the East averaging ~50mph with gusts up to 80 or more.

The long term forecast is showing signs that this warm, wet weather will move out mid-week with clear, slightly cooler weather moving in.


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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