Snowfall increases avalanche danger in Turnagain Pass

Avalanche experts are warning people to stay away from high elevations for the next few days in the Turnagain Pass area.

Heavy winds and curtains of precipitation — snow at high elevations, rain at lower — battered the eastern Kenai Peninsula on Saturday, continuing into Sunday. On slopes higher than 1,000 feet, the avalanche danger was considerable Sunday, according to an avalanche advisory from the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

Triggering a large slab avalanche of two of three feet or more was likely on slopes higher than 1,500 feet. Large and dangerous, these types of avalanches are unmanageable and can be triggered from below or near a slope, according to the advisory.

“Today is a day to let the mountains adjust to the several feet of recent new snow,” the advisory states. “Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making will be essential.”

Turnagain Pass got 20–30 inches of snow near 2,000 feet, while the Summit Lake area got 10–15 inches. The advisory recommends giving the snowpack time to bond from the recent storms and sticking to low-angle terrain with nothing steeper above.

“Remember, it’s the first 2 days after a storm where most avalanche fatalities occur,” the advisory states. “Although there is nice powder at the upper elevations that can lure us, now is not the time to be sampling it.”

Due to warmer temperatures, rain fell on snow up to 1,500 feet, with more rain expected Sunday on snow up to 2,200 feet. With the warmer temperatures, wet loose avalanches are possible as well, according to the advisory.

Turnagain Pass opened to snowmachine use on Jan. 5 and is the only area currently open to snowmachine recreation on the Chugach National Forest in the Anchorage-Kenai Peninsula area. The Resurrection Pass Trail may open this season for snowmachining when there is enough snow.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Mock-up illustration of in-development Kahtnu Area Transit Bus (Image courtesy Kenaitze Indian Tribe)
Kenaitze purchase Kenai’s former Kendall Ford building for transportation hub

Hetl Qenq’a will also serve as a hub for the upcoming Kahtnu Area Transit, a fixed route public bus service

Peninsula Clarion government and education reporter Ashlyn O’Hara stands in the hallways of the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clarion reporter working in Juneau for legislative exchange

Reporter Ashlyn O’Hara will be covering statewide issues with a local lens

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman leads local campaign finance pack, reports show

The reports, due Feb. 15 for candidates running for state office in 2024, offer a glimpse at the position from which candidates will start this election year

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
Caitlin Babcock addresses students during Luke Herman’s government class at Soldotna High School on Feb. 8 in Soldotna.
Amid education funding shortfalls, local students advocate for support

‘This state will lose us and generations of students after’

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney, center, and representatives of Aspen Creek Senior Living celebrate a ribbon-cutting during a grand opening event at Aspen Creek Senior Living in Soldotna, Feb. 9.
Aspen Creek celebrates expansion, readies to widen its community

The facility is in one of the areas described in the city’s Soldotna Downtown Riverfront Redevelopment Plan

Most Read