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Wed, December 21st, 2011 - 7:00AM
Thu, December 22nd, 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 Wednesday, December 21st 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 CONSIDERABLE for new storm snow, wind slabs, and fresh cornices. Last night’s storm brought significant snow and strong wind through Turnagain arm and the Kenai Peninsula. The snowpack will be adjusting to the new load today.


Since the beginning of the month we have gotten 4 major storms through the region. They have all come in with typical maritime force – warm, wet, and windy. Last night’s storm was no exception. The good news is that these kinds of storms tend to bond and stabilize within a day or two. The bad news is today is still within the heightened avalanche danger of last night’s storm. It will be prudent to manage terrain conservatively today and let the snowpack adjust to the new stress.

The primary concern today will be recent storm snow from last night’s and from Sunday’s storms. Specific areas will be wind loaded into deeper pockets. Cornices will likely be large and unstable. Natural avalanches probably happened overnight, and human triggered avalanches will be possible today.

Test pit results yesterday showed typical new storm snow layering and strength . Today we have additional snow to evaluate.


The storm last night brought up to a foot of snow to higher elevations in Girdwood and in the southern portions of the Kenai Peninsula. Areas closer to Seward may have gotten the most snowfall out of this storm. Turnagain Pass only shows about 4 inches on the weather station, with Summit showing a little more. Temperatures rose a few degrees during the storm, so the layering will be slightly “upside-down” with heavier snow on top of lighter snow. Wind during the snowfall was up to 60mph at the ridgetops.

Today’s weather should bring sunny breaks with only light to moderate wind.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Wendy will issue the next advisory Thursday 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.

Wed, December 21st, 2011
Above 2,500'
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
3 - Considerable
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
3 - Considerable
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.