Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, February 5th 2014 7:00 am by John Fitzgerald
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
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The Bottom Line

The general avalanche hazard is LOW in the majority of the forecast area.  A thick crust is keeping the snow “locked up” in all but the highest elevation starting zones.

In high elevation steep terrain, the possibility exists for triggering an old wind slab or a deep slab avalanche.  In these areas the avalanche hazard remains MODERATE.

A serious concern in the mountains around Eastern Turnagain Arm remains “slide for life” conditions, especially in steep terrain below 3,500’.  Slick hard crusts are making it very difficult to arrest a fall.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
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.
Avalanche Problem 1

In terrain above 3,500’, the last storm cycle laid down mostly snow (as opposed to rain).  Terrain above this elevation is harboring old wind slabs up to a foot in depth.  These slabs are resting on weak interfaces.  It is on steep upper elevation leeward slopes where you are most likely to encounter unstable snow today.  The likelihood of triggering an old wind slab is on the lower end of the scale but cannot be ruled out.  If you were to trigger an old wind slab today and get knocked over or lose control, it would be very difficult to stop yourself.  It is for this reason that it is worth avoiding steep (over 40 degree) upper elevation terrain.

Avalanche Problem 2

Slabs 3-6 feet thick are sitting on weak snow near the ground in the upper elevations.  It is less likely to trigger a deep slab today in comparison to a more shallow old wind slab.  However, the possibility remains for triggering a slab that can pull out snow to the ground.  Unlike the persistent (old) wind slab concern, deep slabs have the potential to move large volumes of snow and be unsurvivable.  Avoiding likely trigger points, especially areas where slabs are thinner, will lower the likelihood of triggering a deep slab avalanche today.

Additional Concern

In case you’re just tuning in, we have a very thick crust in the forecast area.  This "bulletproof" crust exists on all aspects up to 3,500’ in elevation, and is over 2 feet thick in places.  Travel in steep terrain warrants extra caution, as arresting a fall is very challenging at this time. 

Expect all of these issues to remain until a shift in the weather pattern takes place and surface conditions change.

Mountain Weather

In the past 24 hours temperatures at the Sunburst Station at 3,812’ have averaged 21 F.  Winds there have averaged 5 mph out of a variety of directions with gust to 21 mph.  It has now been 8 days since any precipitation has fallen.

Today expect clear skies.  Temps will be in the low to mid 20s F at ridge tops.  Winds will be light, in the 5 to 10 mph range out of the North.

The long term outlook shows more of the same.  An uptick in winds for tomorrow and a general cooling trend will continue as high pressure dominates much of the state.

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: May 06, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19
Placer River: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Skookum Drainage: ClosedPlacer access closed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed as of 5/6. Thanks for a great season all, see you next winter!
Twentymile: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed as of 3.22.19 due to lack of snow
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed as of 4.3.19 due to lack of snow
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed for the 2018/19 season. Next season will be open to motorized use.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClose as of 5.1.2019
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed as of 3.20.19 due to lack of snow.
Summit Lake: Closed

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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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