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Tue, October 17th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Wed, October 18th, 2017 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Thanks to stormy weather during the first week of October, followed by another quick storm on Friday the 13th (of October), a dusting of snow sits above 2,500′ in the mountains near Turnagain Pass, Girdwood and on the Kenai. Although we’ve had a few folks report finding enough snow to ski/snowboard at the high elevations on glaciers, it has been Hatcher Pass with the most snow and subsequently, the most popular location last weekend. For those headed that way, check out HPAC’s facebook page  for early season reports.

Early season folks:  Please send us your reports so we can post them on our observation page! Simply click ‘submit observation’ under the Observation tab above. This is a huge benefit for the community and our forecasters. Remember, early season avalanches happen. A very shallow snowpack with rocks protruding can give us a false sense of security. A common set up is a thin layer of weak old snow with a layer of hard wind blown snow on top. Maybe this harder layer only exists on the upper part of a slope and releases as one ascends onto it? Maybe not? But the point is, be aware and don’t forget there are countless ways in which a layer of snow can slide. Tragically, two lives were lost in Montana a week ago due to an early season avalanche. One life in the avalanche and one the next day as the partner took his own life overcome with grief. The ripple effect of avalanche accidents is severe, as anyone that has been involved with a fatality knows. Please take a few minutes this week and read the full accident report HERE. As we embark on this season, let’s remember to be aware and prepared, returning to the parking lot and our family and friends is number 1.

Although winter is on its way, this week’s weather looks mostly clear with no precipitation forecast. This is a great time to make sure your avalanche rescue gear is in order. This means making sure your shovel and probe assemble properly and no parts are rusted and/or worn out. Your beacon has fresh batteries and your terminals are not corroded. Brush up on how to use your avalanche beacon – turn it on, does it pick up another beacon properly and vice versa? And lastly for now, check out the upcoming avalanche courses in your area!  

Photo:  Seattle Ridge webcam image, looking South over Turnagain Pass on Monday, October 16th.


Special Announcements

WELCOME to the 2017/2018 winter season!!

After a long summer break and with a dusting of snow on the peaks, the CNFAIC is opening the office doors for another (hopefully very snowy) winter! All staff are returning this season and everyone will be on board in November. Snow and avalanche updates will be posted intermittently as conditions warrant. Remember, you can subscribe to our email list at the bottom of this page if you have not done so already. Daily avalanche forecasts are planned to begin during Thanksgiving week – unless we are blessed with abundant early season snowfall demanding an earlier start.


This Thursday, Oct 19th

Matchstick Productions  DROP EVERYTHING  

Shows at 7pm & 9pm at the Wendy Williamson auditorium. Doors open 15-20min prior.  See the AWESOME trailer at  https://vimeo.com/225031890  

This will be an action packed evening of fun and fundraising for the Alaska Avalanche School and the Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. Amazing raffle prizes will be there as always!  

Tickets on sale  HERE.

Thursday, Nov 2nd


7pm, 49th State Brewing Co Anchorage. Kick off the riding season, connect with CNFAIC and learn about snowmachine specific avalanche awareness/course opportunities with a ‘Throw Back Thursday’ premiere of Turnagain hardcore 6 – Higher!!    

Tickets on sale HERE.

Friday November 3rd

5th Annual Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop

9am – 4:30pm,  Alaska Pacific University.  Join us for the 5th annual SAAW. Alaska’s southcentral avalanche community will team up with snow professionals from around the region, Colorado and Wyoming to share knowledge and advancements. This is a ‘must attend’ event for avalanche professionals and an excellent way for recreational backcountry users to delve into advanced avalanche topics!  

Preregistration closes on Thursday, November 2nd at 6pm. After that, you can get tickets for $20 at the door between 8:30 and 9am.  Lunch, coffee, snacks and a post workshop ‘beer social’ at the Avalanche School is included. Full schedule and registration  HERE.

Thursday, Nov 16th

8pm, Annual Beartooth CNFAIC Fundraiser:  An Evening with the Smileys

Mark and Janelle Smiley are a husband-wife duo that have spent the last seven years climbing the “50 Classic Climbs of North America”.  Their presentation will feature incredible footage and stories from four of their journeys in Alaska.  Tickets are $25 and will be available starting Oct. 24 at the Bear Tooth website and box office.  

Tue, October 17th, 2017
Above 2,500'
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Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
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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.
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/16/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst/Magnum
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
11/13/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
11/12/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/12/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Goldpan – avalanche
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Taylor Pass – Sunburst
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
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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.