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Fri, December 9th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Sat, December 10th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, December 9th 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 hazard is diminishing to MODERATE today between snowfall events. Isolated pockets of windslab may be found in specific areas. Snowfall is expected to pick up again Saturday with blizzard conditions and significant wind.


The primary concern today is isolated pockets of windslab that may be found near ridges at higher elevations. Watch for the wind loading patterns related to aspect and the shape of the mountain.

After the storm last weekend we had a quick spike in avalanche conditions with numerous natural avalanches. Since then the temperatures have dropped and generally locked the snowpack in tight. Yesterday we got a quick shot of new snow varying from 3-14 inches depending on location. This new snow has built stiff but shallow and isolated slabs in some areas. Those slabs don’t seem to be bonded well to the underlying snowpack quite yet.

The recent natural avalanches on Sunday were sometimes stepping down into the old faceted layers from November. Yesterday our test pits showed several suspect interfaces but only limited reactivity. These weak layers are showing moderate to high strength, with some clean shear planes, but low tendency to propagate. We will be monitoring these deeper weak layers for some time, but in the absence of recent snowfall they will be remain unlikely to trigger.


Yesterday the region got snowfall ranging from 3-14 inches. Today the weather will not contribute much to the avalanche conditions. A small amount of snow is possible with partial clearing at times. Temperatures will range from the teens to the high 20s. Wind will be light to moderate. The next major snowfall is expected Saturday, which will increase avalanche danger over the weekend.

If we get clear skies tomorrow morning watch for a full lunar eclipse around 5am.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

I will issue the next advisory Saturday morning at 7am. 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 9th, 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.