Avalanche Forecast for Friday, February 8, 2019

This forecast was published 02/08/2019 at 7:04 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center will no longer issue daily avalanche forecasts for the 2018/19 season. Read more

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center will no longer issue daily avalanche forecasts for the 2018/19 season. Instead, we will post an updated General Bulletin as needed, in case of significant snow or weather events that might vary from the typical daily changes that come with spring weather. We will also keep you informed about the official closure of the portion of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Lunch Rocks through the Lip and Headwall as well as the switch from the Lion Head Winter Route to the summer trail. Observations from the field will continue to be a valuable resource, so please keep submitting photos, videos and observations here and we will do the same. Check the Forecast page for update on Sherburne Trail closures, which are imminent as spring snowmelt continues.

The switch to a General Bulletin does NOT mean that the mountains are now a safe place to ski. The hazards which emerge in the spring are significant and require careful assessment and strategic management. If you have never skied Tuckerman, peruse our Incidents and Accidents page for spring related incidents involving avalanches, long sliding falls, icefall, crevasse and moat falls, and other incidents related to diurnal changes in the snowpack. These will help you understand and plan for these hazards.

The Bottom Line

Wet avalanches will remain a concern until the snowpack is refrozen. Currently, temperatures are around 10F warmer at Ravine elevations so meltwater may continue to flow in the snowpack until mid-day. This free water in a mostly dense snowpack leads us to a LOW avalanche danger rating today. Soaking wet snow, particularly where it is sitting on steep slabs of rock, ice or ice crust could be trouble spots. Avalanche danger will diminish as cold temperatures and high winds arrive in the afternoon. Travel will be challenging through the day as soaked and rotten snow give way underfoot, even on apparently packed trails. As the snowpack refreezes, crampons, an ice ax and careful climbing will be needed to avoid a long sliding fall in steep terrain.

2019-2-8 Printable

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

The melting continues at all elevations but only through this morning. Freezing rain and rain fell overnight and should continue through the day, as shower activity, until a changeover to snow in the afternoon. Currently, an inversion is keeping things colder in the valleys and the summits with temps in the 40’s F at mid-elevations. The temperature will tumble below the freezing point, by noon at Ravine levels, and continue to fall past 10F by dark, ultimately reaching 15 below zero by dawn tomorrow. Meanwhile, southwest flow will shift west into the 60-80 mph range by mid-day, then northwest at speeds close to the century mark in the late afternoon. Upslope snow showers could deliver a couple inches of snow later in the day and overnight. As always, there is no shelter on the summit of Mt. Washington in the winter.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wet Slab

Wet Slab




Wet slab avalanches will remain a concern until the snowpack is drained of rain and meltwater and refrozen. The snowpack will lock up today as temperatures fall but the timing of this will vary by elevation. Avalanche problems will be replaced by a long sliding fall problem in the afternoon as the wet snow surface becomes icy and bulletproof on steep slopes.

What is a Wet Slab Avalanche?

  Wet Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) that is generally moist or wet when the flow of liquid water weakens the bond between the slab and the surface below (snow or ground). They often occur during prolonged warming events and/or rain-on-snow events. Wet Slabs can be very unpredictable and destructive.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

2019-2-7. Flagged and scarred trees and broken branches tell the tale of avalanche activity reaching well down the floor of Tuckerman Ravine from avalanche cycles earlier in the season. The trail enters the bowl near this spot, placing you in avalanche terrain as you pass by the currently drifted over rescue cache.

Following 2-3 cm of snow, sleet and a period of freezing rain on Wednesday night, the sun and thin clouds worked to heat up the snowpack at every elevation and aspect yesterday. Field observations were limited to terrain from Pinkham to Tuckerman Ravine but the trend of settlement and melting was clear. The upper snowpack was isothermal but to a variety of depths not necessarily corresponding to elevation, likely due to the variable depth and porosity of ice crusts in the snowpack. Speaking of snowpack, ours remains deep and well developed on the east side of the range with 170cm or so on the ground in Tucks. Avalanche activity and above average snowfall have developed our typical avalanche paths, as well as some less typical ones, to full extent. The ice crusts which have developed over the past month or so have been a reminder that these icy crusts become slick bed surfaces that encourage far running avalanches. We should have another one of these layers in place on the surface by Saturday morning.

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.

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
Trace 6.2 MMTrace60 CM0.5 C2.0 C-1.0 CClearNo precipitationView
0 CM 4.2 MM0CM60 CM2.0 C15.0 C2.0 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 20.4 MM0CM68 CM11.0 C12.0 C3.5 CObscuredNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM72 CM4.0 C6.0 C2.0 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 7.6 MM0CM80 CM1.0 C6.0 C1.0 COvercastNo precipitation

Avalanche Log and Summit Weather

Daily Observations

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
05/21/1934 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)

05/18/1934 F26 F 0.06 in 0.5 in39 MPH74 MPH

300 (WNW)

05/17/1940 F28 F .22 in .05 in37 MPH81 MPH

300 (WNW)

05/16/1932 F25 F .03 in 04 in22.8 MPH40 MPH

310 (NW)

05/15/1926 F20 F .05 in .4 in32.1 MPH67 MPH

330 (NNW)

05/14/1928 F17 F .2 in 2 in19.1 MPH57 MPH

100 (E)

05/13/1928 F19 F .07 in 0.9 in34.6 MPH67 MPH

100 (E)

05/12/1931 F17 F 0 in 0 in20.5 MPH47 MPH

330 (NNW)

05/11/1932 F18 F .1 in 0 in53.6 MPH84 MPH

300 (WNW)

05/10/1944 F27 F .85 in 0 in50.1 MPH88 MPH

220 (SW)

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 02/08/2019 at 7:04 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest