Avalanche bulletin issued for Turnagain Pass this weekend

Friday's top stories and headlines across Alaska.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:26 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 9:34 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A special avalanche bulletin has been issued for Saturday and Sunday due to an unstable snowpack in Turnagain Pass.

The bulletin was issued by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, and advises backcountry users to be aware of the possibility of heightened avalanche danger from 6 a.m. Saturday morning through 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Avalanches may happen suddenly from natural causes, and can also be triggered by the movement people, vehicles or large animals.

“Human triggered large avalanches are likely on slopes 30 degrees and steeper,” the bulletin said. “Despite clearing skies and nicer weather, the snowpack is very unstable. Dangerous avalanches could be easily triggered by people in the backcountry.”

Avalanche danger ratings for Jan. 21 2023 — which apply only to the areas around Girdwood and Turnagain Pass — are elevated.

  • Alpine - CONSIDERABLE (orange)
  • Treeline - CONSIDERABLE (orange)
  • Below Treeline - MODERATE (yellow)

According to the avalanche center, Friday was the first day to be avalanche-free following four straight days of natural and human-triggered snow slides. On Tuesday morning, debris and snow from an avalanche on Kern Creek derailed an Alaska Railroad freight train. The center reports that avalanche was likely caused by new snowfall landing on a layer of buried surface hoare frost.