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Wed, February 15th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Thu, February 16th, 2012 - 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, February 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).


It’s storming again. Avalanche danger is also back on the increase today. We can expect at least a CONSIDERABLE danger above treeline while the blizzard continues. Some areas may reach HIGH danger where the snowfall and wind are most intense during this storm.


The sunny break in the weather yesterday gave us a good look around and a short-lived drop in the avalanche danger. Turnagain Pass seems to have stayed mostly intact from the recent storm, but areas that got more snow such as Girdwood showed a handful of larger natural avalanches from the storm cycle. The most impressive avalanche that we saw was on the North face of Alyeska peak, where the Moneys dropped a slab 10-15 feet deep. It created a class 4 avalanche that covered many acres with debris and snapped some mature trees. Light and dry snow was allowing even point releases to run quite far.

The likelihood of avalanching had a marked decrease yesterday as colder temperatures set the new loose snow into place. Explosive triggers were mostly ineffective 8 hours after the storm ended.

Today we have anCNFAIC Staff storm that’s already deposited 4 inches of new snow. A blizzard warning is in effect for Turnagain Arm, and up to a foot of snow is forecasted for today. High wind is back with ridgetop gusts expected to reach 75mph.

The avalanche forecast today is easy. Storm snow is building on partially settled storm snow from 36 hours ago. Heavy snowfall with high wind will be increasing the avalanche danger. We can expect likely human triggered avalanches above treeline in wind loaded areas. Natural avalanches will be possible in steep wind loaded zones at high elevation, and could run far and fast.


A blizzard warning is in effect until noon today through Portage valley and Turnagain Arm. Snow is falling in Girdwood and Turnagain Pass and will continue through today. An east wind with gusts to 75mph will accompany the snow. Snow totals are predicted at 6-12 inches in the mountains with only 0.4 inches of water equivalent. Temperatures should stay cold, with snow all the way to sea level.

The current storm system is a product of a deep stationary low just South of the Alaska peninsula. Our region is currently being hit by a front spun off from that larger storm. We can expect more of the same pattern through the week.

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, February 15th, 2012
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.