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Thu, January 5th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Fri, January 6th, 2012 - 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, January 5th 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 will rise to MODERATE today for fresh wind slab and soft slab avalanches as several inches of new snow, accompanied by wind, is forecast. Watch for cracking in the snow around you in areas such as rollovers, off ridgelines and cross-loaded gullies. Additionally, new snow sluffing will be possible.


Yesterday was anCNFAIC Staff quiet day in the Turnagain Pass, Girdwood and surrounding areas for avalanche activity. Riding conditions have remained quite delightful in areas without wind effect. A bit of new snow and wind is on tap for today so look for the quite avalanche conditions to waken to a certain degree.

The forecast today is for 3-7″ of light, low density snow, and 20mph winds with gusts in the 40’s. This is a perfect recipe for soft wind slab development. Thus, wind slab avalanches will be the primary concern. Watch for slopes near ridgelines, rollovers and gullies with new wind deposited snow to crack under the weight of your snowmachine or board(s). Loose pre-existing snow underlying the fresh wind slabs will add to the sensitivity for human triggers. These slabs are likely to be soft and in the foot deep range or less. However, deeper pockets can easily be formed in cross loaded gullies and certain terrain features.

New snow sluffing and soft slab avalanches will be a secondary concern. There has been a fairly quick rise in temperature above treeline overnight. Some locations have seen as much as a 15F jump since yesterday evening. Though below treeline the cold air has remained in place, keep an eye out for areas with temperatures in the teens, as this rise will likely give the snow an inverted, upside down, character allowing for soft slab formation in the top several inches of new and/or old loose snow.

Lastly, the Summit Lake area continues to have a different snowpack structure than Turnagain Pass and the Girdwood Valley. Weak snow around crusts exist under about a foot of surface snow around treeline with the conditions seeming to improve slightly with elevation.


Yes, finally a break in the cold temperatures and a chance for a fresh coat of paint is moving our way today. Already temperatures have climbed into the mid-teens above 3000′. Quite an inversion has developed, making it likely to find warmer locations with higher elevations. Currently, temperatures below 1000′ are -15 to 0F while above 3000′ are in the min teens.

Snow accumulations today look to be modest, in the 3-7″ range. Southeast winds have picked up this morning and are forecast to continue into the afternoon, averaging near 20mph with gusts over 40mph. Temperatures are likely to remain in in the mid-teens above 3000′ with the colder lower elevations warming slightly through the day.

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 at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

Thu, January 5th, 2012
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.