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Fri, November 18th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Sat, November 19th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning, this is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, November 18th at 7am. This will serve as 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).


The avalanche danger is MODERATE for early season glide events and upper elevation wind slabs. The strong wind two days ago triggered a couple of slabs through our region. Most of the terrain people are traveling is at a LOW danger right now. That trend should remain steady today, but possibly increase with new snow this weekend.


The wind was blowing through Turnagain Arm pretty hard on Wednesday. We got this report that a couple slabs ripped during that wind storm. Be aware that specific areas received the majority of the wind and wind loading. The snow got redistributed, forming deeper slabs on the lee side. These wind slabs could still be kicked loose by a person in specific areas. Be aware of the snowpack changes as you approach ridgelines or drop into a couloir.

Our glide avalanches are still highly visible in Turnagain Pass and surrounding areas. They are huge red flags that something is going on at the ground/snow interface. We expect the glide process to slow down or stop during the current cold weather, but some areas still react unexpectedly. It is still prudent to give the yawning cracks some extra room in case one decides to pop with you underneath.

Just a quick thought about the cold temperatures… Faceting processes are currently happening. The early season shallow snow combined with cold air temperatures results in high temperature gradients through the snowpack. That high gradient (a large range of temperature across a short distance) is the driver behind an internal weakening of the snow. This isn’t a problem now, but it could be when the next snowfall happens. Avalanches happen when stronger snow is found on top of weaker snow. Stay tuned for more discussion as the next storm approaches.

Take a look at this explanation and watch the animation for a good description of the faceting process.


The temperatures remain near zero in the mountains. Expect colder temps in interior depressions like Summit Lake. It should be on a rising trend today as the next front approaches Southcentral. Saturday night looks like our next chance of snow. Clear skies are forecasted today and tomorrow with rising temperatures and light to moderate wind.


A reminder that all areas for winter snowmachine riding in Chugach National Forest remain closed. Keep checking this website for the latest updates.

We are in the season of Fireside Chats, free avalanche awareness talks from your local avalanche center. Show up on Wednesday nights at 7pm at the Forest Service Ranger Station in Girdwood. More details are on our training and calendar page.


We have expanded our photos page to include observations from both the CNFAIC forecasters as well as the public. Please keep checking this page as there will be lots of information to glean. Thanks to all the observations submitted so far!

Check out the training and calendar page on our site. Here you will find avalanche awareness talks and CNFAIC Staff education information. Including a link to an application for a snow safety scholarship offered by the Friends of the CNFAIC – a great opportunity! You must be a member but it’s donation based with a $10 minimum.

A huge thanks to all our current members for your support! The Friends could not do it without you and us without the Friends.

I will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. If you get out in the backcountry give us a call at 754-2369 or send us your observations using the button at the top of this page. Thanks and have a great day.

Fri, November 18th, 2011
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
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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.