Avalanche Forecast for Saturday, March 21, 2020

This information was published 03/21/2020 at 7:10 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.

NOT THE CURRENT FORECAST

This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 03/21/2020 at midnight.


The Bottom Line

The snowpack in our forecast area became wet at all elevations yesterday, followed by a refreeze with falling temperatures overnight creating a sliding fall hazard. Good mountain boots, crampons, an ice axe and the skills to use them are required tools for traveling on open snow slopes and steep terrain today. Ice climbers should be wary of ice dams holding back pressurized meltwater until the snowpack fully drains and refreezes. 

Wind and low temperatures combined with the icy conditions today will make any travel above treeline challenging, and will add an unwelcome element of danger turning small problems into big problems.  Reduce your risk by being prepared, careful and conservative. 

Avalanche danger is LOW.

2020-3-21 Printed Forecast


Mountain Weather

Yesterday, the summit of Mt Washington began the day in the high 30s F and reached a high temperature of 43F around noon before decreasing, dropping below 0F around 9pm. Hermit Lake reached 53F. Light rain showers during the morning and afternoon resulted in 0.31” of water, and just 0.2” of snow. Wind danced around the W cardinal point in the afternoon and evening at 75 – 90mph with a gust of 145mph recorded from the W.

3/21 5am. Chart image from NWS KMWN Hourly Records

Today, we begin the day with the summit at 7F and NW wind 65-85mph. Temperatures will continue to drop to around 0F as NW wind drops to 45-60mph. Cloudy skies will become partly sunny and we may see a trace to 1” of snow from snow showers this morning.

Tomorrow, temperatures will begin below zero and slowly rise to around 5F under clear skies. NW wind 30-45mph will decrease to 10-25mph. Looking ahead, temperatures will remain cold with the next chance for snow on Monday afternoon.

Forecast Discussion

After yesterday’s warm up, followed by the drop in temperatures we don’t have an avalanche problem of concern, and may not until the next round of snow early in the week. Easily the greatest hazard today will be long sliding falls, which are prevented by using the proper equipment and moving very carefully, and deliberately. Preventing a stumble or fall from happening is the best way to avoid a dangerous long sliding fall. 

Unrelated to the forecast, the AMC has fully closed the Joe Dodge Lodge and Visitor Center for public use. This includes all restrooms and the basement pack room. Please plan accordingly.

Additional Information

The Sherburne and Gulf of Slides ski trails are snow covered to Pinkham Notch.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains the easiest route to the summit from Pinkham Notch but requires an ice axe, crampons (not just micro-spikes) and possibly a rope. This is a mountaineering route and requires solid skills for a safe, timely ascent.

Details on daily snowfall totals, precipitation type, total depth of snow and other information can be found on our page devoted to snow study plot data. Click here to check it out.

Recent snowpack and avalanche observations can be found here and on Instagram. Your observations help improve our forecast product. Please take a moment and submit a photo or two and a brief description of snow and avalanche information that you gather in the field.

Snow Plot Information

DateHN24HN24W
(SWE)
Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
03/22/20
05:07
0 CM 0 MM0CM145 CM-18.0 C-5.0 C-18.0 CClearNo precipitation
03/21/20
05:10
Trace 1.6 MMNC145 CM-9.5 C12.0 C-9.5 COvercastSnow
03/20/20
05:05
0 CMTrace 0CM154 CM7.0 C8.5 C-4.5 CClearNo precipitation
03/19/20
05:10
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM156 CM-1.5 C3.0 C-7.5 CClearNo precipitation
03/18/20
05:41
1 CM 3.0 MM1CM157 CM-8.0 C-2.5 C-10.0 CFewNo precipitationView

Avalanche Log and Summit Weather

Thank you Mount Washington Observatory for providing daily weather data from the summit of Mount Washington.

DateMax TempMin TempTotal (SWE)24H Snow & IceWind AvgWind Fastest MileFastest Mile DirAvalanche Activity
03/20/2043 F20 F 0.31 in 0.2 in66.5 MPH145 MPH

260 (W)

03/19/2036 F14 F 0.02 in 03 in26.5 MPH50 MPH

180 (S)

03/18/2021 F9 F 0.03 in 0.5 in39.7 MPH94 MPH

290 (WNW)

03/17/2021 F6 F 0.25 in 2.1 in52.4 MPH109 MPH

280 (W)

03/16/2014 F1 F 0 in 0 in21.3 MPH50 MPH

240 (WSW)

03/15/207 F-3 F 0.0 in 0.0 in42.1 MPH71 MPH

300 (WNW)

03/14/2014 F6 F 0.09 in 0.7 in76.9 MPH117 MPH

270 (W)

View
03/13/2032 F12 F .43 in 1.4 in64.3 MPH94 MPH

270 (W)

03/12/2022 F14 F .02 in .2 in27.4 MPH48 MPH

210 (SSW)

03/11/2024 F9 F 0.02 in 0.2 in47.3 MPH85 MPH

300 (WNW)

03/10/2035 F24 F 0.45 in 0.5 in52.1 MPH97 MPH

260 (W)

03/09/2034 F21 FTrace Trace 57 MPH84 MPH

270 (W)

Please Remember:

Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This forecast is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.

Avalanche danger may change when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

For more information contact the US Forest Service Snow Rangers, AMC visitor services staff at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or seasonally at the Harvard Cabin (generally December 1 through March 31). The Mount Washington Ski Patrol is also available on spring weekends.

Posted 03/21/2020 at 7:10 AM.

Jeff fongemie
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest