Avalanche Forecast for Friday, March 8, 2019

This forecast was published 03/08/2019 at 7:06 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

Wind slabs exist in many places in mid elevation and primarily east facing terrain. The potential to trigger one of these slabs remains. A small amount of new snow yesterday afternoon combined with west winds blowing at loading speeds added to existing wind slabs. A MODERATE rating remains in all areas where wind slabs have grown this week. Careful evaluation of the snow and terrain should allow you to avoid triggering a large avalanche that could come from a few isolated areas in the steepest, most wind loaded terrain. Wind sheltered terrain on the west side is likely to have a similar wind slab problem though should be more isolated.

2019-3-8 Printable

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

Cold temperatures, strong wind and another inch of snow on the summit kept winter firmly rooted in the high country. Wind gusts transported snow off and on through most of the day yesterday while summit fog allowed only brief views of more than a few hundred feet. The summit temperature will warm today to 5F from the current -11F. This morning’s west wind is blowing around 60 mph and will slacken for a while this afternoon as skies clear through the day. Overnight wind will be strong again in the 70’s mph but temps should remain above zero. Tomorrow looks to be sunny and clear with relatively balmy temperatures in the mid-teens with light NW winds.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Cold temperatures and low visibility have kept folks from testing larger slopes, but limited ski and foot traffic have shown the wind slabs to be largely unreactive. Yesterday, the spooky structure of these slabs showed clean shears but no running cracks or other signs that propagation was likely. Very smooth and hard bed surfaces lie beneath the new wind slabs which complicates travel and reduces bridging opportunities for slabs in steep gullies or on unsupported slopes.

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

Some early faceting was observed in sheltered terrain alongside a gully feature in Gulf of Slides. Though these grain types aren’t likely to be widespread enough to create a stability concern, their existence does point to the fact that cold temperatures have not been improving stability and may even be reversing the sintering process. As noted above, a hard bed surface is lurking beneath the patchwork of new wind slabs formed this week, creating skinning challenges at times and making crampon use a good idea lower on a slope than you might think. These bed surfaces are by and large edgeable but will have me carefully considering my runout should I trigger a pocket or even pre-release from a binding on the variable and sometimes grabby snow. Sheltered areas of snow provided some good turns yesterday but scouring will continue to keep things technical in steeper terrain.

Additional Concerns

The Mount Washington Backcountry Ski Festival is going off this weekend! Funds raised at the event support the efforts of the Granite Backcountry Alliance along with our efforts here at the Mount Washington Avalanche Center where we are facing increased costs associated with snow and weather data collection along with a general budget squeeze. Go check out a clinic or the presentations on Friday and Saturday night! We’ll see you there!

The Gulf of Slides and Sherburne ski trails are snow covered to Pinkham Notch. Please be courteous and don’t walk on these trails or in any other skin tracks without snowshoes or some kind of floatation on your feet.

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 03/08/2019 at 7:06 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest