Snow & Avalanche Weekly Summary

Summit Area
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Saturday, April 4th 2015
Created: Apr 3rd 15:30 pm
Summary and Current Conditions

We are no longer issuing weekly Summit Lake snowpack summaries for 2013/14; however, this does not mean that the avalanche season has ended - see below for some SPRINGTIME TIPS to review.

Keep tabs on the Turnagain Pass advisory page as well as the Summit Lake area observations. We will be posting daily Turnagain advisories until April 12th before switching to 5 days a week until our final advisory on April 30th.

Primary Concern

SPRINGTIME AVALANCHE TIPS -  Timing is everything!!
While many folks have transitioned to summertime activities, there is still plenty of snow higher in the mountains.  On any given day conditions can range from warm and sunny t-shirt weather to cold & snowy mid winter conditions.  Being able to recognize and respond to specific avalanche concerns is key in making effective decisions in avalanche terrain.

Storm Snow & Wind Slabs

It is still possible to get significant snowfall this time of year.  Pay attention to how much new snow has fallen and what surface it is sitting on.  Is there a foot of new snow sitting on a crust?  Even without a persistent weak layer between the slab and the bed surface, it is still possible to trigger dangerous slab avalanches.  

Loose Snow Avalanches

Both dry and wet loose avalanches are common springtime avalanche concerns.  Pay close attention in steep terrain, especially when the sun first hits freshly fallen snow.


Many slopes have large cornices looming above them.  Knowing exactly what will tip the scales is difficult.  Some factors that contribute to cornice fall are sun, heat, and new snow with wind.  Give cornices a wide berth and take measures to minimize your exposure beneath them.

Wet Avalanches

wet slab
Wet slab avalanches are also a possibility this time of year.  A combination of a slab, weak layer and water percolating into the weak layer is what is needed for this type of avalanche to occur.  This combination will be possible in the higher elevations or after a storm deposits a new slab and rain or sun sends water down into the snowpack.


Below are some ways to both anticipate and deal with the above mentioned avalanche concerns:

    •    Watch for the "shed cycle" in the higher elevations. One great way is to keep an eye on the ridgetop weather stations (click HERE). Avalanche activity often follows multiple consecutive days (usually 3) of above freezing overnight temperatures.  Careful route planning to stay out from under slopes with wet and rotten snow is essential during this period.  This process has already taken place in the lower to mid elevations and is now confined to upper elevation terrain.

    •    Once the snow has undergone the transition to a summertime pack and is freezing at night and warming during the day (the corn season), hitting the slopes early and getting off them when they become too sloppy is critical.

    •    Damp or wet snow more than 6" deep is a sign that it's time to exit the area. Following the aspects as the sun heats up the slopes over the course of the day, East to South then West, can make for great riding/skiing days ending in sunny tailgating. 

    •    Keep in mind, cloud cover 'holds in the heat' and can dramatically limit overnight refreezing.  A shallow to no refreeze will not only give daytime heating a jump start on weakening the pack, but can produce less than stellar riding conditions.

    •    Beware of warm storms where rain is falling on snow, especially when rain is falling on cold dry snow. This can quickly increase the avalanche danger.

    •    Stay off of CORNICES.  When approaching from the side or above, make sure you can see where the cornice ends and the underlying terrain begins.  If you can’t see that transition area, move away from the edge.  If you find you and your group below cornices, expose only one person at a time and move efficiently through those areas. 

    •    Lastly, don't forget to plan your route back to the car. Does it take you under slopes that were frozen and safe earlier in the day, but now have been cooking in the sun waiting to slide on your return?

Mountain Weather

As always check the nearby weather stations before heading out around Summit Lake and the "Weather" link above for regional information.

Fresno Ridge for ridgetop winds and temps

Summit Creek SNOTEL for temps and precip at road level



This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Summit Lake Area 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 04, 2015 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: Closed2014/15 was completely unprecedented with the Chugach National Forest unable to open to snowmachine use all winter due to a lack of snow at highway elevations. We look forward to a colder, snowier outlook for the 15/16 season!
Twentymile: Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: Closed
Primrose Trail: Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail: Closed
Snug Harbor: Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Closed
Summit Lake: Closed

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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