Avalanche Forecast for Friday, April 5, 2019

This forecast was published 04/05/2019 at 7:01 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 04/05/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

Our snowpack will warm today, transitioning wind slabs into a wet avalanche problem. Shallow instabilities will demand sluff management by skiers and riders and are most likely to get you in trouble above cliffs or in narrow couloirs. While the avalanche danger rating is LOW today, this does not mean no avalanche danger. Wind slabs that warm to the point of becoming wet today may produce small avalanches that could carry you into undesirable terrain. Today’s avalanche rating is based on snow that is already on the ground. Snowfall is forecast to arrive tonight; if out after dark you may encounter developing wind slabs that could make avalanche danger exceed a Low rating.

Printable 2019-04-05

Forecast Area

Avalanche Safety Information Study

Please contribute to the effort to improve backcountry avalanche forecasts! Researchers in Canada devised a study to better understand how we communicate the avalanche risk, and we need your help. Please fill out this survey. It will take a few minutes, but it will help us as we work on new ways to give you the most important avalanche information.

Mountain Weather

High wind and colder temperatures kept spring at bay yesterday. Wind slabs stayed cold and dry with the melt/freeze crust firm down to around 3,000’ on many aspects. Today will start cold and windy, but quickly change as high pressure builds. Warming today will be driven by many factors: temperatures increasing to the high 20sF on summits and mid 30s at mid elevations, wind speeds decreasing to 10-15 mph midday, and mostly clear skies allowing abundant solar gain. As the afternoon wears on, W wind will shift SW, increasing to 60 mph by midnight. Clouds will develop as well with precipitation starting around dusk. The heaviest precipitation should come tonight into Saturday morning, leaving us with around 4” of snow on the ground at mid and upper elevations. With minimal decrease in temperature tonight, it’s likely to see rain mix in at mid elevations tomorrow morning.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wet Loose

Wet Loose




Wind slabs that formed early in the week will warm today for the first time. These slabs are thin, but could produce wet loose avalanches which could prove troublesome if they carry a skier or rider over a cliff or ice bulge. This is of particular concern in very steep terrain. Think of safe zones in terms sluff management today. Pay attention to how the weather is impacting the snow surface: rollerballs, pinwheels and adjacent wet loose activity are all signs the snow surface is becoming unstable.

  Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

The melt/freeze crust which formed last weekend is present at all aspects and elevations. This crust has eliminated deeper instabilities and should provide quality skiing where it softens today. Wind slabs that formed from small amounts of snow through the work week are lurking in the lee of W and NW wind. These wind slabs have had the chance to settle since forming, but will be weakened by today’s warming and will be the primary locations for avalanche concerns. Identifying these wetting wind slabs is easy due to the stark contrast in color and texture when compared next to dirtier and more textured melt/freeze crust.

Additional Concerns

The Sherburne and Gulf of Slides ski trails are snow covered to Pinkham Notch. Water crossings are starting to open, particularly low on the Gulf of Slides Trail.

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

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
0 CMTrace 0CM0 CM8.0 C11.0 C0.5 CBrokenNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM0 CM7.5 C7.5 C1.0 CScatteredNo precipitation
0 CM 22.3 MM0CM0 CM1.5 C4.0 C0.0 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM0 CM0.5 C11.0 C0.5 CClearNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM10 CM8.0 C15.5 C8.0 CClearNo precipitation

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
05/30/1946 F36 F 0 in 0 in27.9 MPH55 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/29/1947 F33 F 0 in 0 in20 MPH48 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/28/1934 F28 F .71 in 3.7 in20 MPH48 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/27/1940 F27 FTrace 0 in38.9 MPH68 MPH

300 (WNW)

05/26/1948 F39 F .77 in 0 in48.7 MPH75 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/25/1947 F31 F .42 in 0 in17.7 MPH63 MPH

240 (WSW)

05/24/1942 F32 F .66 in 0 in44.8 MPH105 MPH

05/23/1944 F30 F .16 in 0 in26.8 MPH71 MPH

270 (W)

05/22/1934 F21 F 0 in 0 in36.2 MPH115 MPH

330 (NNW)

05/21/1934 F23 F .57 in 1.9 in73 MPH135 MPH

330 (NNW)

05/20/1951 F33 F 0.57 in 0.0 in48 MPH82 MPH

250 (WSW)

05/19/1951 F34 F .6 in 0 in34.2 MPH66 MPH

250 (WSW)

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 04/05/2019 at 7:01 AM.

Helon Hoffer
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest