Officials Caution Back Country Use Due to Avalanche Danger

Reports of large avalanches near the Seattle Ridge has prompted the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center to issue an advisory for skiers and snowmachiners.

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by Whitney LB Miller

ANCHORAGE - Reports of large avalanches near the Seattle Ridge have prompted the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center to issue an advisory for skiers and snowmachiners.

Officials say Wednesday's sunny skies after two solid weeks of stormy weather are perfect conditions for someone to trigger an avalanche.

The latest avalanche near Seattle Ridge was the site of a large slide in 1999 where 6 snowmachiners lost their lives.

John Fitzgerald, a forecaster for the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center, said Turnagain Pass is the core advisory area where a large slab of snow is sitting on top of a very weak snow pack base.

Back country users are cautioned to avoid large open steep areas and to stay on low angled slopes.

"If you trigger one of these deep slab avalanches the chances of getting out of that avalanche are very low and the consequences are potentially quite dire," said Fitzgerald. 

Experts say the likelihood of triggering an avalanche isn't very high, but the consequences are life threatening.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, over the past 10 years an average of 25 people die a year. In Alaska there have been 6 incidents that involved fatalities since 2011.

Snowmachiners and skiers can check conditions for the Turnigain Arm area online at cnfaic.org or by calling 754-2369.
 

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