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Warm storm spurs backcountry avalanche hazard

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Stay out of the backcountry from Girdwood down to Seward today. There’s an avalanche warning for Turnagain Pass following Monday’s storm, whose wintry mix of precipitation and wind creates the perfect conditions for an avalanche.

“The storm, as you know, is quite warm,” said Wendy Wagner of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. “And when we really get these warm, wet, powerful storms, the avalanche hazard increases dramatically and we start seeing big avalanches that can run all the way down to the valley bottom and even sea level.”

The warning is for the backcountry, not highways or railroads. It encompasses the mountains between Summit Lake and Seward, as well.

“Right now the advisory is in place until tomorrow morning and as soon as the storm pushes through and we start seeing cooler temperatures, then we’ll start seeing a decrease in avalanche activity and the mountains should start to stabilize,” Wagner said.

Separately, the Alaska Department of Transportation conducted avalanche hazard reduction work along the Seward and Portage Glacier highways Tuesday.

TelAlaska was also out on the roads, working on restoring internet and phone service to Moose Pass and Cooper Landing. Ongoing storms have impeded that progress, and most people in those communities have been out of service since Friday.

Stay up to date with avalanche alerts on the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center’s site.

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