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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Graham Predeger  
Wednesday, January 29th 2014
Created: Jan 29th 6:55 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.
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The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE today above and below treeline.  The probability of natural avalanches is decreasing with time and a slow and steady fall in temperatures but human triggered wet slab avalanches are still likely today.  Weak snow near the ground is allowing any avalanche triggered to take out the entirety of the snowpack forming large and destructive wet slides that have the potential to travel well below tree line. 

In the upper elevations (above 4,000’) where snow has been falling in earnest over the last 2 weeks we have seen evidence of a deep slab problem.


Primary Concern

Without any reported natural avalanche activity again yesterday we have reason to believe that after a solid 12 days of rain and unseasonably warm temperatures the snowpack is adapting to this new normal.  Natural avalanches will be less likely today but given the results from DOT and AKRR avalanche mitigation work along the Seward Highway yesterday, the faceted layer at the bottom of the snowpack is still proving to be quite reactive given the right (or large enough) trigger. 

We still need several days and nights in a row with below freezing temperatures to really lock up the snowpack in these mid-elevations (1800’ – 3500’) where the vast majority of avalanche activity has occurred during this warm-up. 

Below 1800’ our snowpack has literally deflated, losing perhaps 75% or more of its mass since January 15th due to rain and unseasonably warm temperatures.  When travelling through this elevation band, avoid avalanche runout zones such as funneled terrain.

Peterson Creek path @ MP 84. Helicopter bombing triggered wet slab avalanche running on basal facets.  Debris ran all the way to sea level even though the snow line is at approximately 1,000'.

Photo: Kevin Wright


Secondary Concern

Broken skies yesterday gave us a few brief glimpses of the high peaks around the Girdwood Valley.  From the binoculars, winter appears to exist at these upper elevations (above about 4,000’) where the snow surface appears thick and plastered onto steep terrain in true Chugach fashion.  With evidence of a deep slab avalanche cycle over the weekend there is still reason to be suspect of high elevation terrain as the deep slab problem is not one to heal itself quickly.  If travelling into these upper elevations pay attention to what’s above you, including looming cornices which if released can act as a trigger large enough to initiate an avalanche.


Mountain Weather

Over the last 24 hours temperatures have continued a slow and steady decline at ridgetop locations with both Seattle Ridge and Sunburst maintaining temperatures below 32 degrees.  Temps at sea level remained above average in the low to mid- 40’s.  Winds continued out of the east averaging around 20mph.  Precipitation was pretty limited with just a trace of rain and snow falling throughout the day.  Rain/ snow line was around 2,000’ yesterday.

Temperatures today look to be in the mid-30’s at 1,000’ cooling to mid to low 20’s at ridgetop locations.  We may see just a trace of precipitation today (with snow falling around 1,000’) as the current low pressure weakens and moves through our area.  Winds will continue from the southeast in the 17-31mph range. 

The trend for overnight and into tomorrow appears to be a building high pressure which should dry us out for a day or two though temperatures do not appear to drop dramatically. 

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 25, 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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