Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 2nd 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

An overall LOW avalanche danger this morning will rise to MODERATE on southerly aspects above treeline with daytime heating. Wet loose snow avalanches will be possible to trigger on steep slopes where the sun is able to soften surface crusts. Additionally, cornices continue to deserve a wide berth from both ridgelines and below.

 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.
Special Announcement
  • Due to warm temperatures, rain, and a decreasing snowpack all motorized areas in the Seward District and 20 mile are now closed.  The only areas open for snowmachine riding are Turnagain Pass, Johnson Pass north, Placer and Skookum. See the 'riding conditions' update on the bottom of this page for more details.
  • If you recreate in Turnagain Pass please consider participation in this survey at  Your feedback will help assist in avalanche forecasting and avalanche education while contributing to ongoing research that benefits the backcountry community.  Participants will be entered into a prize drawing and have access to final results!

Avalanche Problem 1

Our unusual winter continues as we enter March in a melt-freeze cycle. A variable, yet mostly supportable, crust covers the snowpack as high as 4,000' and higher in some areas. With the intense sunshine yesterday, south facing slopes were able to soften - to some degree - and this should be the case again today. No avalanche activity was seen or reported yesterday.

If you are headed out in search of sunshine and softening crusts, keep an eye out for soft snow that becomes several inches deep or more. In this case, wet loose avalanches will be possible to initiate on steep slopes. Though these are fairly slow moving and predictable avalanches, they can have a lot of mass and momentum behind them. Keeping this in mind with your terrain selection will be key. Even a small wet loose avalanche can be dangerous in terrain traps, channeled terrain, cliffs, etc.

Avalanche Problem 2

Cornice falls continue to be a concern with our spring-like temperatures and increasing sunshine. Give cornices a wide berth and steer clear from underneath. They are notorious for breaking further back than expected.

Additional Concern

At elevations above 2,000' there is a variable facet/crust combination that sits 1-3' below the surface. It has been 2-3 days since any slab avalanche activity has been reported at this interface. This activity was in the Placer valley zone and not in the heart of Turnagain Pass. Though the snowpack is tired and the facets are not proving to be very reactive, it is worth noting for those that may be headed out to the far reaches of our advisory area. This is an outlier concern that is mainly confined to >4,000' in elevation or on steep south slopes that become very soft with the daytime warmth.

Mountain Weather

It was a beautiful day in the backcountry yesterday with sunny skies and calm winds. During the past 24-hours temperatures have averaged around 32F on the ridgetops and winds have been light and variable. The last precipitation was recorded on February 26/27 where 0.2" of rain fell up to 4,000'. Side note: The combination of very little wind and intense sun can cause temperature sensors to warm up and record inaccurate readings - this occurred at Sunburst yesterday where a spike of 50F was recorded mid-day even though the true temperature was ~30-35F. 

Another round of clear skies is on tap today. Ridgetop winds have shifted overnight to a Northerly direction and will pick up slightly to the 10mph range. Temperatures will remain near 32F on the ridgetops and climb to ~45F at 1,000'.

Monday temperatures will begin to drop as a cold front slides in with a chance for an inch or two of snow on Tuesday into Wednesday.

Webcam junkies:
If you have not done so already - be sure to bookmark this RWIS site for Turnagain Pass. Thanks to the AK DOT who are currently getting the weather station back up and running (not all data is up yet). And a special thanks to Matt Murphy (AK DOT Avalanche Program Director and former CNFAIC forecaster) for programing in views of Eddie's, Tincan, Seattle Ridge and the new snow stake!

Seattle Ridge (left) and Tincan (right) webcam images from 3/1


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

Subscribe to the Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory:

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.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
© 2019 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.