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Snowmachines trigger small avalanches in Turnagain Pass

A slab avalanche triggered by a snowmachine on Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass.
A slab avalanche triggered by a snowmachine on Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass.(Photo courtesy Wendy Wagner, Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center)
Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 1:13 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Following the opening of the season for motorized use in Turnagain Pass, several avalanches were reported by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

The avalanche danger forecasted by the center remained at a considerable level for zones above the tree line at 2,500 feet of elevation or higher for the fifth consecutive day. Forecaster Andrew Schauer posted an observation from a snowmachine-caused avalanche at 2,500 feet of elevation on Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass that occurred on Saturday.

Schauer wrote that the main avalanche problem in Turnagain Pass would be persistent weak layers that could trigger slab avalanches.

“So there’s about two foot of snow in this spot sitting on top of these weak facets from early in November, and the big problem here is there’s this really stiff wind slab and what makes it a little bit more tricky is it’s been covered by some of the later on snow this week,” said Schauer. “This is kind of a very clear sign that on a bigger slope like this, conditions could be unstable and could definitely have serious consequences, triggering something like this. And moving forward a problem like this isn’t going to go away quickly, so we’re going to be dealing with something like this for a long time.”

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