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Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   John Fitzgerald  
Monday, February 3rd 2014
Created: Feb 3rd 6:11 am
2 Moderate Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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Coming up on Saturday, February 8th is the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center 2014 Fundraiser. An eventful evening with a slide show, live music, silent auction and more are on tap. Tickets are selling fast so get yours today and support avalanche information in the Hatcher Pass area!!


The Bottom Line

The avalanche hazard is LOW in many areas today.  Cooler temperatures over the last several days have helped to solidify the snowpack up to 3,000' in elevation.

In steep, high elevation starting zones the possibility exists for triggering a deep slab or a shallow, old wind slab.  It is in these areas where the hazard is MODERATE today.

A greater concern in the mountains today is not avalanche related.  An impenetrable crust up to 3,000' will make a fall in steep terrain potentially disastrous for skiers and riders.


Primary Concern

The unusually warm and wet weather of late January has given way to a period of cooling.  This gradual cooling has allowed the once saturated snowpack to “lock up” in many locations.  The end result is a stout crust on the surface.  This crust is now over 2 feet thick in places and can support a tremendous amount of weight.  Because of this, it will be very difficult to trigger an avalanche in all but the highest elevations of the forecast zone.

In steep upper elevation starting zones above 3,000’, the possibility still remains for triggering a deep, dangerous slab.  Weak snow near the ground still exists.  This weak snow is now covered with slabs up to 6’ in depth.  The likelihood of triggering one of these slabs is low today.  However, if you were to trigger one of these slabs the end result would be a high volume avalanche that would be unsurvivable.  

This is a difficult avalanche problem to assess.  The easiest way to deal with this problem is to avoid steep terrain in the upper elevations.  Avoiding steep rollovers & thin spots in the slab will also minimize the possibility of triggering a deep slab avalanche today.


Secondary Concern

It is also worth paying attention to old wind slabs that formed last week.  These slabs exist in pockets in the higher elevations and will be on the shallow side, less that 10” in depth.  Avoiding these pockets will help to minimize the greater hazard of losing control in steep terrain on a slick, hard crust.  A fall in steep terrain today will be very difficult to arrest, hence the term “slide for life” conditions.


Mountain Weather

No precipitation has fallen over the past 6 days.  Ridge top winds over the past 24 hours averaged 10mph out of the East with a gust to 32 mph.  Temperatures at the Sunburst station at 3,812’ have averaged 25 F.

Today expect dry conditions with high clouds.  Ridgetop winds will be in the 15-20mph range out of the SE and temperatures will be in the mid to high twenties F.

A large area of weak high pressure over much of the state will continue to dominate our weather through the week.  A shift in the overall weather pattern looks to be on the distant horizon (next weekend).  Stay tuned for timing and more details later this week.

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.


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