Avalanche Forecast for Friday, January 18, 2019

This forecast was published 01/18/2019 at 7:06 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 01/18/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

The recipe for small wind slabs is on the table today with a ripe wind direction and speed for loading. However, it’s likely we will lack the snow which serves as the crucial ingredient, at least during daylight hours, to build those slabs. If you are out climbing (recommended) or skiing (not so much) bring your crampons for the rugged, hard snow and keep an eye on the weather, especially later in the day. Overall stable conditions today, even with a small amount of new snow, should keep us at a LOW danger rating today. If we receive the upper end of the forecasted 1-3” of snow, the potential for small, human-triggered avalanches may exceed that rating, especially as evening approaches.

2019-1-18 Printable

Forecast Area

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Mountain Weather

Low tide conditions continue with no new snow recorded in the past 24 hours around the range. Summit temperature at 6 am is 0F with wind from the southwest near 40 mph. A weak cold front will pass through this afternoon and bring snow shower activity with it. Accumulations should be light, with forecasts ranging from one inch up to three inches. Wind will shift west and ramp up into the 45-60 mph range in the afternoon. Dry air in place and limited moisture in the system seem likely to keep snow accumulations low. Temperatures will fall again tonight to near -10F with wind remaining from the northwest in the 40-55 mph range. After a fairly calm but seasonably cold day tomorrow, a significant winter storm arrives in the evening with temperatures staying quite cold through the storm. Low density snow will likely create challenging conditions for a number of reasons with “postholing” through thigh-deep snow, even with snowshoes, being among them.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Wind slabs have been unreactive for several days now bringing generally safe avalanche conditions to the range. Some pockets of softer snow exist but also seem to present generally stable conditions. The possibility of finding and triggering a thin spot in a hard wind slab resting on the ice crust is unlikely but not impossible. New wind slabs could develop late in the day, especially if we receive 3” of new snow.

What is a Windslab Avalanche?

  Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Remnants of the 1.5” of snow that fell Wednesday and developed small but softer wind slabs are scattered around in the most sheltered locations of the terrain. Overall, the snow surface in avalanche paths is dominated by thick hard wind slabs or avalanche debris from the widespread January 10/11 avalanche cycle. Facets have been observed around the ice crust under the hard wind slabs that remain, though triggering these tough slabs remains unlikely. The incoming snowstorm will be greeted by fully developed avalanche paths, at least in the eastern half of the compass rose. This includes slopes and gullies with a more south-easterly aspect.

Additional Concerns

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

Thanks to the 72 people that came out to LL Bean in Freeport for the avalanche awareness talk last night. We’ll see you there next year. Check our events page for two more talks coming up at REI stores in Reading and Boston.

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 01/18/2019 at 7:06 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest