Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Sunday, March 9th 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

The avalanche danger is generally LOW again today. Triggering an avalanche will be unlikely in the majority of the forecast area. The exceptions are in steep extreme terrain at the upper elevation zones >4,000' where a remote possibility exists of triggering an old slab or a cornice fall.

**Avalanche danger will rise rapidly in conjunction with heavy snowfall and strong winds beginning early tomorrow morning and possibly through mid-week. The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch beginning Monday morning.

 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.
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Avalanche Problem 1

One more day of dust on crust conditions is on tap for the Pass and surrounding regions. Though we have a mostly stable snowpack and it has been over a week since we have seen/heard of any avalanche activity, there are a few things to keep in mind if you are venturing to the steep upper elevations. These are:

  •      - Cornices. Natural or human triggered cornice failures are possible. We have seen little evidence of these falling recently - but it is still something to be mindful of.

  •      - Slab avalanches and loose snow sluffs. Very steep slopes at elevations over 4,000' harboring dry snow are suspect for finding a piece of unstable snow. Good travel practices, i.e. only exposing one person at a time, are good ways to manage travel in these 'extreme' areas.

A bit on the snowpack:
The snowpack to date is composed of mostly crusts and weak snow near the surface. This, for the time being, is not a problem since there is no 'slab' portion to our pack. However, all bets will be off starting tomorrow as a much needed storm is on the doorstep. As we anticipate a new load, knowing the surface conditions is key. Currently, we are set up with a couple inches of weak faceted snow and surface hoar on top of a crust 1-4" thick. This weak snow over a crust combo is a perfect weak layer and bed surface. Add a 'slab' of new snow on top of that tomorrow and it's pretty easy to see that avalanche activity will be on the rise. It will be good to rein in the powder fever on the steeps this week.

Mountain Weather

During the past 23-hours (one hour less due to daylight savings time...) we have seen mostly clear skies and light winds from the west. Temperatures have averaged in the teens F at most locations. Overnight, temperatures have dropped to the low teens and valley bottoms have dropped even more to ~0F as a temperature inversion has set in. 

Today will be the calm before the storm. Skies should remain mostly clear with high clouds streaming in for the afternoon. Temperatures will climb out of the single digits to near 30F at 1,000' and up to 20F on the ridgetops. Winds will remain in the 5-10mph range and slowly shift from west to south to east through the day.

It looks like - after months of waiting - a series of 'classic Chugach storms' is on the way. Snowfall is expected to begin late tonight and pick up Monday. Models are showing around 1.5" of water equivalent for late tonight through tomorrow night (that is 14-18" of snow!). Add to that an additional 1" of water (10-14" of snow) for Tuesday. Snow should make it to sea level during this period but may rise to a rain/snow mix for Tuesday. These numbers are for Turnagain Pass and favored areas will likely see more and vice versa. Stay tuned.

With fear of reading too much into the crystal ball....models are showing another pulse of precip for Thursday/Friday and another for Saturday/Sunday.


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

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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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