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Fri, December 2nd, 2011 - 7:00AM
Sat, December 3rd, 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, December 2nd 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 Seward District opened all motorized areas yesterday. Check the riding areas at the bottom of this page for the latest updates. Placer river and Twentymile remain closed until we get more snow cover.


Today’s avalanche danger rating is MODERATE for windslab near the ridgetops sitting on top of older faceted snow. The recent storm on Tuesday night brought variable amounts of snow into the region with highest amounts near Seward and Girdwood, lesser snowfall happened in Turnagain and Summit. This snow was accompanied by high wind and warming temperatures.


Our recent storm brought less precipitation than was originally expected, but it still affected our area with increased avalanche hazard on Wednesday. With the weather staying mild yesterday and today the overall danger is back down to moderate. Our primary concern today is wind loaded slopes above treeline.

Yesterday we found variable conditions climbing to the ridge. The stiffer snow and fresh cornices on North and West slopes confirmed the wind loading direction from the recent storm.

Digging below the surface shows the recent storm snow is sitting on top of facets from the multi-week cold snap in November. It’s not a well defined “strong snow over weak snow” scenario, but we could identify a couple layers of concern. Take a look at our pit data from yesterday here. We could identify 2 interfaces that failed with strong force. These could be a problem in areas with greater wind loading or when we get more stress in the form of snow or rain.

During the next few days it will be prudent to keep an eye on the weather. More snow is possible, with wind and even warmer temperatures.


Snow in the mountains with rain possible at sea level. Snow accumulation looks to be limited in the next 24 hours with 1-3 inches. Temperatures are near freezing and expected to stay that way. Wind will be light inland with moderate winds through channeled areas like Turnagain Arm and Portage Valley.

I will issue the next advisory Saturday morning. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

Fri, December 2nd, 2011
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
2 - Moderate
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.