Avalanche Forecast for Saturday, January 5, 2019

This forecast was published 01/05/2019 at 7:07 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

Slopes holding large areas of wind drifted snow could produce an avalanche from a human trigger today. Warming may ultimately contribute to human triggered avalanches being likely in these recently formed wind slabs. The Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine holds the largest of these slabs and therefore has CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. All other areas have MODERATE avalanche danger, with the Northern Gullies of Huntington Ravine as the one exception with LOW avalanche danger. Be mindful that the soft snow that you will likely be drawn to is today’s avalanche problem in most of our terrain.

2019-01-05 Printable PDF

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

Several hours of sustained 70 mph W wind yesterday morning has slowly decreased to the current 35 mph. Wind today will continue to diminish, ultimately to around 10 mph on the higher summits. Tonight wind will remain calm from the SW before shifting NW and ramping back up. Minimal precipitation occurred yesterday and none is expected today. Partly cloudy skies this morning should become increasingly cloudy through the day. It’s currently 25F on the summit and temperatures should push above freezing in all of our terrain. Tomorrow brings a chance at 1-3 inches of snow falling on our typical strong NW winds.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Wind slab that formed since Thursday should remain reactive to a human trigger today. Warming today may increase the likelihood of a human triggered avalanche. Areas of this slab do vary significantly in size. Terrain with smaller and thinner pockets will present a more manageable avalanche problem than places where the slabs are large and possibly several feet thick. Realize that today’s danger ratings are based primarily on potential size of an avalanche, and that a small avalanche in the wrong place can be a big deal.

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

The multiple recent melt freeze events have created robust crusts that keep our stability concerns focused on snow which has fallen and been wind transported since Monday night. Terrain with a significant upwind fetch area for wind loading, like Tuckerman Ravine, have large areas of new wind slab that may be quite thick. The wind slab formed since Thursday tends to be cohesive and often layered over less cohesive snow. This poor structure was touchy yesterday and is likely present in large and small slabs alike. Wind has also scoured to crust in many locations across many aspects, though the crust appears bright white and can be difficult to visually identify. A solid partner and dialed snowpack evaluation skills will be essential to managing the current avalanche problem and scoring good turns.

Additional Concerns

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

Sustained above freezing temperatures at low elevations today may make icefall a concern, particularly in lower elevations.

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
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
0 CM 0.8 MM0CM84 CM4.0 C10.0 C0.0 CClearNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM84 CM1.0 C1.5 C0.0 CFewNo 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
05/18/1934 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)

05/09/1942 F20 F .04 in 0 in18.6 MPH44 MPH

190 (S)

05/08/1927 F18 F 0 in 0 in38.3 MPH65 MPH

330 (NNW)

05/07/1939 F26 F .54 in 0 in40 MPH66 MPH

270 (W)

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 01/05/2019 at 7:07 AM.

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