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Sat, November 26th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Sun, November 27th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning this is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Saturday, November 26th 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).


Turnagain Pass is now open to winter motorized use from Ingram Creek to Bertha creek Campground. All CNFAIC Staff motorized areas in the District will remain closed including Johnson Pass, Placer, and 20 mile due to lack of adequate snow coverage. Overall snow depth at Turnagain Pass is adequate yet marginal. Riders should be aware of exposed natural hazards consistent with early season riding.


I’m bumping the overall danger rating to MODERATE today because of the recent new snow and the possibility of building wind slab today. Wind transported snow at upper elevations is my primary concern if the wind picks up today. If that happens, watch where the snow is blowing and avoid those areas of concern. In the absence of significant wind the hazard should remain Low.


All the recent snow is contributing to raise the avalanche danger. We still feel generally good about the conditions right now, but subtle changes in the weather could quickly create a more hazardous scenario. The cold dry snow is loose and evenly distributed through the region. It won’t take much wind to move a lot of that snow in a short period of time. Be especially aware today if the wind picks up and starts to load the leeward slopes. The wind is predicted to hit 20-30mph near Seward and Whittier. These are ideal conditions to blow snow off the ridges into avalanche start zones.

Our pits yesterday again confirmed what we have been finding over the last week. Most of our snowpack is loose and relatively weak snow. Areas near ridgetops have an older buried stiff windslab, but it doesn’t seem to be moving under human weight. It still feels spooky when you travel across it. In some places it supports your weight, with thinner spots breaking underneath as you travel across. Shooting cracks are possible where that slab breaks, but we’ve only seen it in very isolated circumstances. This stiff windslab is sitting on top of weaker facets, which is theoretically a bad combination. I think the missing links right now are a substantial slab layer, and significant stress. The recent light dry snow doesn’t contribute much to either of those factors.


Yesterday was fairly snowy from Girdwood to Turnagain Pass. 4-7 inches fell in the last 24 hours, which brings the week total up to about a foot, with settled depth of 8-12 inches of light dry powder. This snow has all fallen during cold temperatures and very little wind. Today, snow showers in the morning should give way to partly sunny skies in the afternoon. Generally light wind with isolated areas up to 30mph near Seward and Whittier.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Wendy will issue the next advisory tomorrow morning at 7am. 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.

Sat, November 26th, 2011
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. Dangerous avalanche conditions. 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.