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Wed, March 28th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Thu, March 29th, 2012 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Chris Engelhardt with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Wednesday, March 28th 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).


There are pockets of CONSIDERABLE danger on wind loaded slopes today. Primarily look out for steep rolls on North, West and South aspects. In addition, it would be pertinent to evaluate all snow and terrain carefully today for sensitive wind packed soft slabs. The avalanche danger overall is MODERATE today for the core advisory area, but is increasing due to sustained winds from the East and continued precipitation.


We investigated Eddies yesterday and found the snow surface to be quite sensitive due to significant winds and snow transport that was primarily coming from the East. Starting around tree line, virtually every steep roll on a northerly aspect that we stepped on released small, tender, wind loaded pockets. The newly loaded snow was consistently sliding very quickly on surface hoar. Check out our observations from yesterday The surface hoar was widely observed throughout the zone this weekend, forming Saturday and Sunday nights.

Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential today Staying conservative today is the best bet with predicted low visibility, continued wind, precipitation and transport of snow. Sticking to smaller, manageable, and low angle terrain is the name of the game.

Primary Concern – Wind Slabs and Soft Slabs

The significant degree of wind throughout yesterday and last night along with the warm wet snow is wind loading and depositing sensitive new slabs of snow on a variety of snow surfaces. Besides the surface hoar already described, we also had lots of sun crusts and harder wind hammered surfaces for this new snow to fall on. Human triggered avalanches are possible today on all aspects, especially North, West and Southerly aspects.


Tuesday was a day with low visibility, blowing snow and pretty dank conditions down at lower elevations. On lower angle terrain around tree line the wetter snow was creamy and there were numerous skiers out enjoying the benefits. The lower you got the stickier and pasty the snow became, something we have not experienced for quite a while on Turnagain Pass. It snowed moderately most of the day and winds were sustained around the 20’s, gusting into the 50’s during the day from the East.

Temperatures remained warm overnight with Sunburst averaging 25F overnight and winds continued to blow from the East averaging in the mid-20-30mph range and gusting into the 50’s for multiple hours during the night. Today, temperatures are supposed to pretty tepid ranging from the mid 30’s to low 40’sF at around 1000ft elevation. Rain level may reach around the 900ft level. Winds should continue to blow primarily from the East in the 25-40mph range. Bring that hard weather shell today to stay dry!!

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

Wendy will issue the next advisory Wednesday 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, March 28th, 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.