Turnagain Pass RSS

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Fri, January 20th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Sat, January 21st, 2012 - 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, January 20th 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 LOW through the core zone of Turnagain Pass. Steep alpine zones still have some potential for small sluffs and occasional small wind slabs. Extreme terrain, which includes areas with cliffs, very steep and sustained slopes, and terrain traps can still be life threatening during times of LOW avalanche danger.


Our extended period of clear, cold, and calm weather has led to generally safe avalanche conditions in the backcountry. A number of reports from big and steep terrain have all come back with positive reviews of the snowpack. Our own slope testing shows loose snow on top of a strong snowpack. The surface layers are building surface hoar and faceting out, creating a potential for small sluff avalanches in steep terrain.

Under the definitions of LOW avalanche danger, there still remains a possibility for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Small avalanches are still possible in extreme terrain. Steep and unforgiving terrain carries its own risks. Small sluffs can provide the surprise push to send a person over a cliff.

The clear and cold weather is building large surface hoar, primarily at lower elevations below treeline. Faceting of the surface layers is also loosening the snow. Both of these processes could create problems when the weak surface snow gets buried by the next storm.


The weather forecasters are calling for anCNFAIC Staff 2 days of clear and cold weather before a storm system finally breaks in again. Today is anCNFAIC Staff déjà vu of yesterday with clear skies, below zero temperatures, and light wind. A temperature inversion is likely again today with ridgetop temps reaching into the positive single digits.

The next storm could break through our blocking high pressure ridge in the near future. Snow is now in the forecast for Saturday night.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

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, January 20th, 2012
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
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.