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Sun, January 15th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Mon, January 16th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Wendy Wagner
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Wendy Wagner with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Sunday, January 15th 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).


Today the avalanche danger is MODERATE for both human triggered sluffs in the loose surface snow and lingering wind slab avalanches. The winds that produced a natural avalanche cycle around 36 hours ago in the areas just south of Turnagain Pass have a heightened danger and it is possible that a person may find one of these wind slabs in our core area today.


Yesterday, Seward Highway DOT crews shot down a few class 2-3 size avalanches in the Summit Lake area (milepost 43) while conducting avalanche hazard reduction work. We also received several reports from the backcountry. Folks in the Turnagain Pass area reported easily triggered sluffing in the surface snow while a few reports from the periphery were more concerning.

Today, most people in the Turnagain pass area will likely see sluffing in the loose snow that has not been wind affected. These sluffs are often quite manageable but can quickly entrain more snow than expected. Also, the loose snow is sitting on a hard winded surface in many places and has been reported to be significant and running easily with this hard surface underneath.

Lingering wind slabs will also be something to watch for today. Especially for folks heading for longer outings outside the central Turnagain Pass area. Keep a close eye out for cracking in the snow around you as this is a bulls eye clue the slope could slide.

Locations just south of Turnagain Pass, including the summit lake area, have a heightened avalanche danger. The snowpack in these areas is more variable and, as described by a local avalanche educator yesterday, collapsing in the lower elevations along with natural avalanches around 2 days old, is something we have not seen just a few miles down the road in our core forecast zone.


The cold air flowing down from the arctic has settled in and is here to stay for the next several days. Under mostly clear skies overnight, temperatures have dropped into the negative single digits at sea level and around 1000′. The good news is above 3000′ temperatures have risen to around 10 degrees above zero. Winds overnight have been light from the northwest with gusts in the teens. (Our Friends of the CNFAIC computer/weather instrumentation guru, Crane Johnson, installed a new anemometer yesterday on the Sunburst weather station – so it is back up and running!)

Today, skies will be mostly clear with a chance for a few high clouds streaming overhead and temperatures look to warm up slightly, into the positive realm around 1000′. No snow is on the horizon and winds will be from the northwest blowing between 5-15mph with gusts into the 20’s.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

We would like send a HUGE Thank you to everyone who has submitted observations this weekend. They have been vital. Keep ’em coming!!

I will issue the next advisory Monday 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.

Sun, January 15th, 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. 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.