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Thu, December 22nd, 2011 - 7:00AM
Fri, December 23rd, 2011 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, December 22nd 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).


There is a MODERATE avalanche danger today for wind slab avalanches. Watch for lingering wind slabs formed during Wednesday’s early morning wind and snow event, as these will be possible to be human triggered. Areas most suspect will be steep terrain with recent wind deposited snow.


Yesterday, we had one report of a small skier triggered wind slab avalanche in the Turnagain Pass area. In general, it seems most folks have been sticking to the soft, wind sheltered, snow near and below treeline. Above treeline, the snow is quite wind effected with variable riding conditions.

Today’s primary concern will be human triggered lingering wind slab avalanches. These formed during Wednesday’s early morning 70+mph winds and 6-16” of snow. Anyone traveling in steep terrain will want to keep an eye out for hollow feeling wind pillows and any cracking around your sled or boards. Also, keep an eye out for looming cornices that could fail under the weight of a snowmachine and/or person. These cornices have grown substantially during the past 2 ½ weeks of stormy weather.

Of note, there have been a few recent glide avalanches in the Girdwood Valley over the past few days.


Under mostly clear to partly cloudy skies overnight, temperatures have cooled into the teens at most upper elevations and mid 20’s F at the mid elevations. A slight inversion has set up with temperatures in the low 20’s near sea level. Winds have been light to moderate from the northwest on the ridges.

Today, a large low pressure system that is spinning in the Gulf is spilling clouds our way. By the afternoon/evening skies look to fill in with a chance for a few inches, and possibly more, of snow tonight. Winds look to remain light to moderate on the ridgelines from the northwest. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 20’s F today and will continue to decrease with the cold northerly flow into the weekend.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Kevin will issue the next advisory Friday morning. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button on right hand side or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

Thu, December 22nd, 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.