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Mon, April 2nd, 2012 - 7:00AM
Tue, April 3rd, 2012 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Chris Engelhardt with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Monday, April 2nd 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).


Skookum drainage is now closed to motorized use for the rest of the season. All CNFAIC Staff motorized use areas on the Glacier Ranger District, such as Placer Valley and 20-Mile, remain open.


MODERATE avalanche danger continues on ALL NORTHERLY slopes above tree line that have wind-loaded dry snow. Shallow ~1ft soft slab avalanches are very easy to trigger and have been widespread throughout the Turnagain Pass zone. Wet avalanche danger will also be MODERATE and could reach CONSIDERABLE levels today if the predicted high temperatures and clear sunny weather culminate.


Conditions have not changed much over the course of the last 5 days or so. Persistent soft slabs are balanced precariously on buried surface hoar on the North aspects. If you are looking for dry cold snow be prepared to deal with this issue. These conditions may be manageable on moderate terrain with escape routes, but once you get into steep, exposed, and technical terrain you could easily get into trouble. Careful route selection is needed to avoid any unsupported slopes above cliffs or slopes that dumps into any kind of terrain trap .

Warming spring temperatures and the expected clear sunny days on tap are going to melt and loosen sunny aspects well up to the higher elevations today. We have seen all the trees lose their tree bombs this past week, and next up is all the residual hanging cornices out there. At this transitional time from winter to spring, it would be advisable to avoid any travel on, or beneath sunny hot slopes, especially in the afternoon.

Primary Concern – Persistent Slab Avalanches

Our observations from this past Saturday sum up well the current conditions of northerly aspects. Expect to find sensitive soft slabs, resting on surface hoar that propagate quick and run even faster. Cautious route finding both up and down are necessary. Skiing or riding above any kind of depression, gulley or cliff should be avoided.

Secondary Concern – Wet Avalanches, Cornices and Glide Cracks

We have not seen a large wet slab event yet, but if temperatures continue to climb today and tomorrow, with clear days, we may see much larger destructive wet avalanches. I’d stay off sunny slopes for a variety of reasons; horrible skiing in the morning, injury-inducing punchy wet snow in the afternoon, wet avalanches in the late day, and to top it off, person swallowing glide cracks inhabiting numerous locals. Falling Cornices may also trigger larger avalanches beneath, so pay attention to your location in valley bottoms. I wouldn’t spend too much time admiring my north side run while standing under a cooking south side slope. Take a quick egress and revel in your accomplishments from a safe spot.


It was misty and visibility was poor for most of the morning until the sun started breaking out mid afternoon yesterday around the Turnagain Pass zone. At tree line, temperature reached into the mid-30F’s peaking around 2pm, while it remained cooler at higher elevations averaging in the mid-20F’s at peaks and ridge tops. Easterly winds were very calm averaging 4-8mph throughout yesterday and last night.

A sunny, clear day is forecast today with temperatures slated to reach the 50’s at sea level and around 25F-30F at 1000ft elevation. Winds look to remain light from the east. Bring your sunscreen

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Graham will issue the next advisory tomorrow 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.

Mon, April 2nd, 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.