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Fri, November 2nd, 2012 - 7:00AM
Sat, November 3rd, 2012 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. Due to early season conditions, for both the snowpack and our operations, we will be issuing intermittent snow and avalanche updates between today and November 17th, as conditions dictate. A thin blanket of snow sits in the mountains welcoming in the season and that means we need to start thinking avalanches. It is also the time for replacing beacon batteries and becoming reacquainted with your rescue gear.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Friends of the CNFAIC’s benefit hosted by the Bear Tooth – it was a full house and a great success!!

The calendar is filling up with free awareness classes and other avalanche education courses offered in our area so make plans accordingly. The first of four “fireside chats” starts Nov. 8th in Girdwood (see calendar for further details).

Keep checking our photos/observations page for early season information.

For those that have ventured into the hills recently it has been clear that the largest hazards have been along the lines of bears, rocks, stumps and crevasses. The little snow that is on the ground (3-20″) is mostly from mid October with 2-3 inches of light new snow on top. Avalanche activity has been confined to sluffing in either the new snow and/or the weak October snow.

West shoulder of Tincan ridge (~3000′, Nov 1st, 2012)

Future concerns:
We are dealing with a very thin and weak early season snow cover. The snow that fell in mid October sat under clear skies for two weeks and has turned to facets (sugar snow) with some impressive surface hoar (1-20cm) growing on top. When this 3-20″ of weak snow becomes overloaded with additional snow we could see widespread avalanche activity and a rapid rise in danger.  

General snowcover as of November 1st

For today, the few inches of snow with moderate winds has the potential to form pockets of wind slabs near ridgelines and gullies. If triggered these pockets will likely pick up steam as they would entrain the loose faceted snow adding to the size of the slide. Watching for areas with recent wind deposited snow and steering clear of runouts under sustained steep slopes and gullies, where sluffs may run far, are good things to keep in mind. Even a small sluff could be quite painful if caught up in as rocks and stumps abound.

Fri, November 2nd, 2012
Above 2,500'
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Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
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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.
Fri, November 2nd, 2012

Though a few inches of light snow fell in Anchorage earlier this week, it wasn’t until Halloween night that Turnagain pass saw 3 inches of their own. Temperatures this week have remained chilly, in the teens and 20’s while winds have been moderate 10-20mph on the ridgelines.  

Today, Friday, the low pressure spinning the Gulf will move our way and with that an increased change for snow over the weekend. Models are showing around 5-8 inches in the Turnagain Pass area. Temperatures are on the rise this morning, around 30F at treeline, and winds should start picking up into 30’s to 40mph by tonight from the east.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/25/24 Turnagain Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
02/24/24 Turnagain Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
02/22/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Lynx Creek
02/22/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
02/20/24 Turnagain Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
02/19/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Lynx creek
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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.