Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Wednesday, March 5th 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

LOW avalanche danger remains above and below treeline as today’s shot of moisture affecting Anchorage and points north will glance by the Eastern Turnagain Arm region. 

If this storm happens to shifts south of Anchorage today and snowfall accumulates in the 6-inch range around Turnagain pass the danger will rise to MODERATE with shallow storm slabs and loose snow avalanches as the primary concern.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
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

Join CNFAIC forecasters John Fitzgerald and Wendy Wagner at REI on Thursday night from 6-7:30pm for a presentation on this season's unusual weather, snow and avalanche cycles. This talk will get into the nitty-gritty of the impressive wet avalanche cycle in late January, discuss the unique snowpack we have seen this year and more. We look forward to seeing you there. To reserve a seat go to REI's website on this link- plus, it's FREE!!

Avalanche Problem 1

With temperatures cooling significantly since the most recent Feb 28th warm-up our snowpack is pretty well locked in place and capped off by a 1-4" melt freeze crust.  New snow today doesn’t appear significant enough to tip the balance in terms of triggering large avalanches.  However travellers in steep terrain may experience loose snow sluffs or shallow storm slabs comprised of any new snow accumulation from today.  These will likely be less than 12" deep, sliding easily on the surface crust.  This avalanche problem is quite manageable and should only prove concerning for travellers in steep, high consequence terrain.

Continue to follow proper backcountry travel protocol in these times of low avalanche danger, as winter is NOT over yet!  With March and April ahead of us, this optimist’s glass is still half full!

Additional Concerns:

Widespread surface hoar capped our most recent melt freeze crust on Monday.  With moderate winds yesterday and overnight, any snowfall from today has the potential to bury much of this intact.  Though this shouldn’t be a problem today given the lack of forecasted snow it warrants our attention as a future weak layer/ bed surface combination if buried intact.  

Cornices continue to grow across our region with little evidence of failure to date.  Continue to give these ‘backcountry bombs’ a wide berth and generally just be aware of where you are at in relation to a cornice.

Mountain Weather

Temperatures yesterday hovered right around the freezing mark at 1,000’ with low 20’s at ridgetop locations.  Winds were light with moderate gusts into the mid-20 mph range from the south and east with no measurable snow accumulation in our region.

The lion’s share of forecasted precipitation in south-central Alaska today appears to be well north of Turnagain pass toward Talkeetna and the Susitna Valley with Anchorage receiving a decent shot of moisture as well.  In the Eastern Turnagain Arm area, we may see up to a couple inches of snow down to sea level, temperatures in the low 30’s at 1,000’ and generally light winds from the SE in the 7-20mph range at ridgetops today.

Looking out toward the weekend there is a North Pacific low tracking into the gulf by late Friday that should impact south-central AK through the weekend.  More to come on that… 

See below for a brief summary of snowpack and water data that Wendy put together yesterday:

As of March 1st from the Turnagain Pass SNOTEL at 1880' elevation on Center Ridge:

Snow depth:  42", this is 47% of average...ouch (Only 10 years of data exist so far, 2005-2014)
Precipitation (graph below):  86% of average (due to rain in October and January)
SWE (graph below):  50% of normal for the median SWE 

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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