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Tue, March 13th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Wed, March 14th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Chris Engelhardt with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Tuesday, March 13th 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 remains LOW in the core Tunagain Pass area. Dry loose snow sluffing in steep terrain and shallow wind slabs on the leeward side of ridges remain the biggest concern today. The great weather lately and overall snow stability in the core forecast zone has contributed to wonderful skiing and riding opportunities, but do not let it lull you into complacency. Always follow good protocols while traveling in avalanche terrain. Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain are always possible. On the periphery and outside our core zone areas of MODERATE danger may exist.


Continued calm sunny days combined with cold nights and calm to non-existent winds has settled the snow pack significantly. Robust, thin wind slabs were found yesterday just off ridge tops and they felt hollow and drum like. We avoided these areas as well as the large cornices hovering over the leeward side of ridges. Observations yesterday saw lots of dry loose sluffing on steeper terrain caused by skiers. Be aware of this when choosing the terrain you’re skiing and make good decisions on how to manage the loose snow that will be chasing you down the hill. If you are riding or skiing in lower elevations continue to avoid traveling underneath sunny aspects that continue to produce wet loose snow releases as rocks heat up during the day.

The snow surface in the Turnagain Pass zone is becoming less consistent as sun crusts have developed on south aspects and the light loose powder on north, east and west aspects has been moved around, compacted and is starting to recrystallize. Also, surface hoar has been observed at all elevations and will be something to track in the future. Check out our observations and photos page for more condition details.

Primary concern: Loose Snow

Loose snow sluffing on all aspects above 40 degrees. Concerted terrain and sluff management is needed if you are intending on stepping it up and skiing steep committing terrain.

Secondary concern: Wind Slab

Wind slabs on the leeward edge of ridges, steep rolls and convexities remain a concern on wind loaded aspects and unsupported slopes (e.g. Slopes above cliffs).


Yesterday remained quite sunny and calm with temperatures in the mid-20s. Winds were stagnant and remained that way into the early night. Last night, temperatures warmed up slightly from previous nights into the 10-14F range. Today, winds are supposed to pick up slightly to 10-20mph and blow from the east and southeast. Temperatures should be in the 17-25F at lower elevations and there is a chance of scattered snow showers throughout the day. Skies were clear and the stars were sparkling early this morning in the Girdwood valley.

Currently there is an upper low centered over Southwest Alaska and we are expected to get scattered snow showers throughout the rest of the week. Perhaps we will get some nice pulses to refresh the snow surface.

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, March 13th, 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.