Avalanche Forecast for Friday, January 25, 2019

This forecast was published 01/25/2019 at 7:10 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

You may find small wind slabs in isolated areas of lee terrain today. These slabs were deposited since yesterday’s rain and though likely to be stubborn they are resting on an icy crust. They may grow a little larger as an inch or so of new snow falls today. The refrozen surface snow creates a dangerous slide-for-life situation, even on lower angled slopes that you might hike on the approach to ice climbs or on a summit hike. Crampons and an ice axe and a strong focus to avoid falling are needed today. Undermined snow, damaged and increasingly brittle ice, ice dams building in the falling temperatures, and strong wind will keep alpine conditions very real today.

2019-1-25 Printable

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

An inch and a quarter of rain fell through the day Thursday, all the way to 6,288’. Daytime temperatures yesterday hovered around the mid-30’s F for almost 12 hours. Around sundown, SW wind shifted to the west and precipitation changed back over to snow on the summit as temperatures fell to more seasonal readings.  Almost 3” of snow was collected at the summit yesterday afternoon with only a trace to 1” of snow at our snow study plots. Since that time, west-northwest winds blew around 70 mph. High winds this morning will taper, as skies clear a bit mid-day, before increasing again later this afternoon. After reaching a high of 5F midday, summit temps will fall to -20F overnight.  Upslope snow showers could bring a trace to an inch of snow today with another trace to two inches of snow overnight.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab

Aspect/Elevation

Likelihood

Size

Small wind slabs may be reactive to a human-trigger. These should be easily identified in contrast to the hard refrozen snow that now dominates the upper snowpack.

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

Heavy rain and low visibility yesterday made field observations an unattractive option for many reasons. Given the firmness of the wind slabs in the terrain prior to the rain, we expected wet slab natural activity to be a possibility but not particularly likely in most areas. This type of rain on firm wind slab event has a history of not avalanching in widespread ways but does sometimes produces wet slabs and wet sluffs from icy bed surfaces. Typically, our wind pounded snow transforms into a rock-hard, tilted skating rink following a good soaking rain, though lower elevation softer snow often remains breakable. Anticipate breakable snow at mid and lower elevations with the potential for flowing water beneath.   

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

DateHN24HN24W
(SWE)
Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
05/22/19
05:25
Trace 6.2 MMTrace60 CM0.5 C2.0 C-1.0 CClearNo precipitationView
05/21/19
05:25
0 CM 4.2 MM0CM60 CM2.0 C15.0 C2.0 COvercastNo precipitation
05/20/19
05:30
0 CM 20.4 MM0CM68 CM11.0 C12.0 C3.5 CObscuredNo precipitation
05/19/19
05:25
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM72 CM4.0 C6.0 C2.0 COvercastNo precipitation
05/18/19
05:20
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 01/25/2019 at 7:10 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest