Avalanche Forecast for Monday, March 11, 2019

This forecast was published 03/11/2019 at 7:02 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 drifted snow will dominate today and grow wind slabs quickly on slopes with an easterly aspect. These wind slabs should be reactive to a trigger and may entrain a large amount of snow due to the connected nature of avalanche paths on the east side of the Presidential Range. You will also be able to find newly formed wind slabs on slopes with a northerly aspect, though growth of these today will be limited to cross-loading and may become stubborn due to high wind speeds. Slopes that contain wind drifted snow will have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger due to the likelihood of an avalanche and the size it could produce. Remember that wind can quickly turn inches of snowfall into feet of wind slab, particularly where the upwind fetch is largest.

2019-03-11 Printable

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

A 12-hour period of steady snowfall yesterday that started late morning left around 4” on the east side of the Range, though less on the northwest side due to the location of the storm. During this time wind from the south decreased from 65 mph to the 40 mph range. Just as snow stopped, wind shifted to blow from the west and has increased to 75 mph where it should remain for the forecast period. Current temperatures on the summit are 14F and 23F at 3800’ which should gradually drop about 10F over the day. Conditions are ripe for upslope snow showers through the day and could deliver up to 3” by dusk. Snow showers may continue overnight into Tuesday, delivering another inch of two on steady high wind speeds from the NW.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab

Aspect/Elevation

Likelihood

Size

Wind slab that began building yesterday will continue to grow today with more snow and wind. These will likely be reactive to a human trigger. After northerly aspects saw direct loading yesterday, the shift in wind overnight will primarily load easterly aspects today. Those with a large fetch, such as the Tuckerman Headwall and main gullies in Gulf of Slides, are the areas that could produce a large avalanche, particularly in the unlikely but not impossible event of an avalanche stepping down into wind slab that formed last week.

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

Wind slab that formed early last week with a clear weak layer between the overlying slab and bed surface remained largely unreactive except for a small skier-triggered avalanche on Friday. Wind slab that built yesterday and will continue to grow today rests on top of this older wind slab in locations that see largest loading today. Though outside our forecast area, a human-triggered avalanche yesterday in Lincoln’s Throat demonstrated how quickly wind slabs can grow, particularly at the base of ice bulges where sluffing can contribute quickly to the mass of growing slabs. Wind speeds today will border on the verge of scouring in some locations, but with wind direction making a 90 degree swing last night, be prepared to find today’s avalanche problem around micro-features in many places of our terrain.

Additional Concerns

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

Join us next Tuesday evening, March 19th, for an Avalanche Awareness presentation at Plymouth State University! Details on our events page.

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 03/11/2019 at 7:02 AM.

Helon Hoffer
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest