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.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 01/05/2019 at midnight.

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

Forecast Area

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.

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.

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
0 CMTrace 0CM0 CM8.0 C11.0 C0.5 CBrokenNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM0 CM7.5 C7.5 C1.0 CScatteredNo precipitation
0 CM 22.3 MM0CM0 CM1.5 C4.0 C0.0 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM0 CM0.5 C11.0 C0.5 CClearNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM10 CM8.0 C15.5 C8.0 CClearNo precipitation

Avalanche Log and Summit Weather

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
05/30/1946 F36 F 0 in 0 in27.9 MPH55 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/29/1947 F33 F 0 in 0 in20 MPH48 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/28/1934 F28 F .71 in 3.7 in20 MPH48 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/27/1940 F27 FTrace 0 in38.9 MPH68 MPH

300 (WNW)

05/26/1948 F39 F .77 in 0 in48.7 MPH75 MPH

290 (WNW)

05/25/1947 F31 F .42 in 0 in17.7 MPH63 MPH

240 (WSW)

05/24/1942 F32 F .66 in 0 in44.8 MPH105 MPH

05/23/1944 F30 F .16 in 0 in26.8 MPH71 MPH

270 (W)

05/22/1934 F21 F 0 in 0 in36.2 MPH115 MPH

330 (NNW)

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)

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