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Tue, January 10th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Wed, January 11th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Graham Predeger
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Graham Predeger with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Tuesday, January 10th 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 CONSIDERABLE this morning and may trend towards HIGH as this most recent storm intensifies throughout the day with increasing precipitation. Human triggered avalanches will be likely with the increased load of new snow forecast and fresh wind slabs.


If you were out in the backcountry yesterday, it was hard to believe that an intense winter storm was headed our way. Monday’s brief high pressure is giving way to blizzard like conditions throughout the advisory area today. The National Weather Service states “An impressive plume of moisture is associated with this system reaching back to the subtropics.” This satellite image sums it up nicely.

The primary avalanche concern today will be quite obvious. It is arriving in the form of high winds and periods of intense precipitation throughout the day. This will be our first big wind event since December 20th. We have ample snow on the ground available for wind transport, coupled with subtropical moisture streaming into the advisory area. This is a red flag for heightened avalanche activity. Remember, MOST AVALANCHES OCCUR DURING OR WITHIN 24 HOURS OF A STORM. We will be well within that window all day today and most likely tomorrow as well.

A secondary concern that is worth mentioning is the widespread rime crust that was deposited on January 7th/ 8th in the Turnagain Pass region. It is still too early to tell if this fragile crust will act as a weak layer for subsequent slabs to run on or if it will be obliterated by today’s winds. We will be watching closely to see how it reacts to the increased snow and wind loads over the coming days.


Winds began to increase into the moderate range around 8pm last night with approaching high clouds from the southeast. As of this morning winds are already in the 50-60 mph range with gusts approaching 90 mph at the Sunburst weather station. There is a blizzard warning in effect for the Girdwood and Turnagain pass regions until 9pm this evening.

Snowfall in the advisory area is just beginning as of 6am and looks to intensify as the day progresses. There is still some uncertainty as to the amount and timing of the heaviest precipitation, but we can expect favored areas in the eastern Turnagain arm region to receive upwards of 24″ of snow by the time this low passes Wednesday night and into Thursday.

Temperatures are still relatively cool this morning though forecast to rise into the mid 20’s today. At this point, it appears that temps will stay below freezing at 1000′ as this low pressure moves through on an east to southeast flow across the Chugach range.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Kevin will issue the next advisory Wednesday 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.

Tue, January 10th, 2012
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
3 - Considerable
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.