Avalanche Forecast for Saturday, March 2, 2019

This forecast was published 03/02/2019 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 formed in the past week have become unlikely but not impossible to human trigger. Time has helped strengthen bonds between layers in our upper snowpack, resulting in LOW avalanche danger for all forecast areas. Low does not mean no avalanche danger, and practicing good habits today will help protect against the unlikely but potentially high consequence possibility of an avalanche. These good habits should include assessing consequences of an avalanche wherever you travel, traveling one at a time from safe zone to safe zone, and bringing your beacon, probe, shovel, and ability to use them. This will also help habits become more ingrained for days of elevated avalanche danger. It’s also a good time to respect the potential for a long sliding fall on the hard snow surface, making crampons, ice axe, and an ability to not fall requisite for steep terrain. Those who come into the mountains with good preparation should enjoy some fun snow conditions and mild weather today.

2019-3-2_printable_pdf

Danger Rating by Zone

Mountain Weather

Moderate wind speeds, mostly clear skies, and temperatures approaching 10F on the summit made for a pleasant day yesterday. Today is a little warmer, with the summits and our terrain currently in the lower to mid teens F and which is forecast to rise a few degrees. Clouds will move in some time this morning as skies become mostly cloudy. Wind should be light on the summits. A chance at new snow tonight, totaling a trace to 2”, will combine with a slight increase in NW wind. Partial clouds, westerly wind around 30 mph, and a lull in precipitation tomorrow should give way to significant snowfall late Sunday night into Monday.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab

Aspect/Elevation

Likelihood

Size

Snow early last week fell on sustained westerly wind over 100 mph, creating hard wind slabs that are large and specifically located on the eastern half of the compass rose. These wind speeds always create weird wind patterns, and you’ll find smaller pockets of wind slab in other areas as well. Both large and small areas of wind slab have become unlikely to human trigger. Remember that unlikely does not mean impossible and use normal caution if you travel in avalanche terrain today.

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

In the past week the Presidential Range has received approximately a foot of snow. Most of this snow fell on Monday with sustained westerly wind well over 100 mph. These wind speeds typically result in widespread scouring and isolated pockets of hard wind slab, but they are typically not accompanied by the simultaneous snowfall which occurred on Monday. This combination of extreme wind and significant new snow loaded easterly terrain with mostly hard wind slabs that are now stubborn to unreactive but large. Greater scouring occurred on the west side where a far less developed snowpack still exists. Beneath the snow of the past week, older wind slabs seem generally well bonded to the February 8th melt/freeze crust. In some easterly terrain, wind loading of the almost 1” of snow that fell early Thursday has produced a softer but shallow surface snow that is generally not an avalanche problem but which makes for good turns.

Additional Concerns

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

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 03/02/2019 at 7:06 AM.

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