Avalanche Forecast for Monday, January 14, 2019

This forecast was published 01/14/2019 at 7:01 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

Human triggered avalanches are unlikely but should still be a primary hazard on your radar today. Firm, large wind slabs, like those formed late last week, are a tricky avalanche problem as they generally display minimal signs of instability under your feet. Safe avalanche terrain practices like traveling one at a time and carrying your beacon, shovel, and probe are still advised. Remember that you use these practices for the “what if” scenario of an avalanche on a slope you’ve decided is reasonably stable. All forecast areas have LOW avalanche danger today. Continuing to respect avalanche terrain and remembering that Low does not mean no avalanche danger should combine well with favorable weather for a great day in the mountains.

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Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

Summit wind under 20 mph yesterday should also be light through much of today, ultimately increasing late afternoon and tonight while blowing from the NW. Temperatures have risen a few degrees overnight, though valleys are colder than higher elevations currently, and will continue to rise to the upper teens F on the higher summits. Clear skies and no precipitation are forecast today. Tomorrow should bring similar temperatures, mostly cloudy skies, moderate wind speeds, and possibly a trace of snow by tomorrow night.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab

Aspect/Elevation

Likelihood

Size

Wind slabs formed from the extended period of wind following last week’s snow are generally firm in middle and upper elevations. Expect them to be unreactive to a human trigger, but look for exceptions to help guide your terrain choices. These slabs vary in size and are quite large in some terrain, particularly the Sluice and Lip of Tuckerman Ravine. This avalanche problem should be generally absent on the western half of the compass rose and at lower elevations.

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

At the tail end of and following last week’s snow storm, northwesterly summit wind held in the 70-90 mph range for three days. A few hours of recorded wind were near 100 mph, and only a few dipped below 70 mph in that 72 hour period. This sustained period of extreme wind speeds heavily affected our storm snow, resulting in several natural avalanche cycles. The aftermath is areas of smooth and hard (1F) wind slab, heavily wind textured snow that is also quite hard in many places, and scouring. Similar aspects and elevations throughout the terrain vary in current conditions, largely due to upwind fetch for wind loading of the storm snow or lack thereof. While stability tests will identify weak layers in the upper snowpack, it’s unlikely that your weight will be enough to trigger an avalanche in our hard wind slab today. Remember that conditions vary greatly through the range and look for exceptions to the Low avalanche danger.

Additional Concerns

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

Maine folks: Don’t miss the opportunity for a free avalanche awareness presentation from our director, Frank Carus, this Thursday evening at L.L. Bean in Freeport!

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 01/14/2019 at 7:01 AM.

Ryan Matz, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest