Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Thursday, November 26th 2015
Created: Nov 26th 6:16 am
4 High Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
4 High Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
2 Moderate Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
Nissman Family
Special Announcement



An Avalanche Warning remains in effect for the Hatcher Pass area - see The Hatcher Pass road is closed and Park Rangers are recommending the public stay out of this area.  

skier remains missing in the Hatcher Pass area. In addition to the road being closed, please be respectful of the rescue efforts. Our thoughts are with the family and friends at this difficult time

Petersville / Cantwell areas:
BE AWARE, if you are headed North of Anchorage, heavy snowfall the past week has created dangerous avalanche conditions in these regions as well.

**Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Excitement continues to be high for these early season storms and we are all powder starved from last season, but PLEASE be extra conservative this holiday weekend. Now is the time to let the new snow settle and adjust. Playing in mellow terrain and avoiding all slopes over 30 degrees and their runouts is recommended. 

The Bottom Line

A HIGH avalanche danger exists in the Turnagain Pass and Girdwood regions where over a foot of new snow combined with strong wind has created an unstable snowpack. Natural and human triggered slab avalanches (roughly 2' thick) are likely. MODERATE danger exists in snow-free gullies and runouts below 1,000' where debris can run from an avalanche occurring above.

Travel in avalanche terrain is NOT recommended in the Eastern Turnagain Arm region (Girdwood/Portage/Turnagain Pass) and the Kenai mountains. Check out this quick tutorial on how to identify avalanche terrain. Eating turkey, watching football and/or hitting Alyeska for their opening day are good alternatives.

Primary Concern

The powerful storm that moved through last night has created a textbook avalanche scenario: Heavy snowfall (12-16+") overnight with significant wind has rapidly loaded slopes. Although the new snow has fallen on a variety of preexisting surface conditions, the 'rapid loading' itself is the concern. Slab avalanches up to 2-3' think are possible on windloaded slopes. These can release on their own, naturally, or are likely to be triggered by a person.

If you are headed out into the backcountry - steering clear of ALL avalanche terrain is advised. This includes runout zones. Keep in mind treed areas, such as Tincan and Eddies have avalanche terrain intermixed with safe terrain. Expert level snowpack and terrain assessment skills are needed to negotiate these areas safely.

Additional Concern

A number of glide cracks still exist at mid-elevations on Turnagain pass, notably in areas like the Tincan trees. Travel under glide cracks should be avoided. Glide avalanches are very unpredictable and the recent warming temperatures could add to the potential for a glide to release.

Mountain Weather

A warm Southwesterly flow has dominated the weather for the past several days. Light to moderate rain began yesterday and reached up to 2,000' in places before turning to snow overnight. The rain/snow line is currently hovering near 500' where it is expected to remain for the day. See snowfall and water totals below. Winds have been strong out of East averaging 30-40mph.

For today, light snowfall is expected to add 2-4" at the mid-elevations before tapering off and allowing skies to breakup. Tonight another system moves in from the Southwest, yet is a bit cooler that the last one. We are looking at rain/snow lines near 500-1000' with snowfall amounts in the 6-12" range by Friday evening. More on that tomorrow!


PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 31  10+  1.1  28 
Summit Lake (1400') 34  0.6  11 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 33  16  2.2  25 


RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 25   ENE 30  77 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 26  SE  20  53 


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: Nov 22, 2015 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedBuilding our base - 20" so far! Reference the DOT Turnagain Pass RWIS web cam for current image of Turnagain pass snowstake.
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

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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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