Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Monday, January 27th 2014 7:00 am by Graham Predeger
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The danger today remains HIGH in the backcountry at all elevations and aspects.  Large natural avalanches are again likely and will consume the entire depth of the snowpack once initiated.  Temperatures continue to rise as I write this at 6 o’ clock this morning and will be the major culprit today as this January shed cycle continues for at least another day.

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

The snowpack continued to degrade yesterday under a tenth consecutive day of unseasonably warm temperatures.  Wet slab and wet loose avalanches remain the primary concern as temperatures stay well above freezing again today. 

We have continued to see large natural avalanches in the Turnagain and Girdwood regions nearly everyday since the warm up began.  Yesterday was no exception as terrain on Pete’s South proved susceptible to the rain and warm temps.  The mercury continued to climb overnight and we are seeing our highest temperatures in well over 3 months this morning.



Temperatures @ 5AM in degrees Fahrenheit           

            Penguin Peak (4200’):  41

            Sunburst (3880’): 45

            Alyeska top of Quad (2800’):  50

            Seattle Ridge (2400’):  47

            Center Ridge (1880’):  52

Cold temperatures (well below 32F) and time are the only two factors that will bring us out of this period of elevated danger.  With unseasonably warm air and moderate amounts of rain again today, the snowpack will continue to lose strength and whither away from the valley floor moving up in elevation.  Travel in avalanche terrain again today is not recommended.  

Yesterday I saw people kayaking Six-mile Creek, road biking, ROCK-climbing and kite surfing along the Seward Highway.  Until winter returns to south-central Alaska, activities such as these are going to be the better (and probably more fun) alternative to recreating in the backcountry this June-uary.

Avalanche Problem 2

In the upper elevations of our zone where precipitation has been falling primarily as snow, we have a deep slab (6’+) resting on what we know is a weak foundation.  Evidence of this deep slab problem presented itself on Saturday in the Girdwood Valley as pictured below.  Any avalanches initiated in upper elevations today will likely be triggered either by wind or a falling cornice.

Natural deep slab avalanche on Goat Mt. SE to SW facing with ~6,000' starting zone.  Saturday Jan. 25th.

Additional Concern

Winds have been moderate to strong over the last 2 weeks, primarily out of the east and southeast creating some large and unruly cornices on upper elevation west aspects.  Cornices are quite unpredictable and have a tendency to release during warming events.   

Mountain Weather

Scattered rain showers returned to our region yesterday with temperatures cooling slightly from Saturday night/ Sunday morning.  The slight cooling was followed by rapid warming that began yesterday afternoon and continued into this morning (see Sunburst graph above) where all ridgetop stations are reporting temperatures greater than 40 degrees.  Winds have continued to blow predominantly from the east in the 30-50mph range.

With the passage of this current warm front today we can expect temperatures to drop slightly throughout the day to the mid to low 40's at 1000'.  This slight cooling will not be nearly enough to shore up our snowpack, though it may drop our snowline down to around 2500'.  Precip amounts will be light today with our first chance of SNOW coming later tonight in the 1-3" range above 1000'.  Ridgetop winds will continue in the 50-60mph range from the east.

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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