Avalanche Forecast for Sunday, March 10, 2019

This forecast was published 03/10/2019 at 7:20 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 03/10/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

Snow falling today will combine with wind to create new unstable slabs and increasing avalanche danger through today and tonight. Wind from the south today will load terrain on the northern half of the compass rose. After dark, wind shifting to the westwill transport snow from our largest fetch zones into easterly terrain and continue to enlarge new slabs. Watch for quickly developing wind slabs today and realize that the size of new wind slabs depends on the amount of snow we actually receive.. Avalanche danger will rise to MODERATE today as human triggered avalanches in these growing slabs become possible. If you’re in the mountains late today, be aware that a wind shift to W and increasing speeds may result in avalanche danger reaching CONSIDERABLE due to the increased chance of natural avalanches in wind loaded terrain.


Forecast Area

Mountain Weather

Temperatures slowly climbed to the upper teens F on the summit yesterday under clear skies and decreasing NW wind. New snow today should total 2-4 inches and fall on S wind that will increase this morning from under 30 mph to the 50-60 mph range. Snowfall may taper slightly  after dark as wind ultimately shifts W and increases. A period of mixed precipitation, particularly sleet, may occur tonight though forecasts are trending towards all snow and totaling at least another inch. Consistently W wind around 70 mph is forecast tomorrow and we may receive an additional trace to 2” of snow.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




New snow on increasing southerly wind will build new wind slabs though the day that will become possible to human trigger as they grow in size. Expect the largest wind slabs to develop on northerly aspects but watch for cross loadinging to also build slabs on easterly and westerly aspects. The wind shift to W is forecast to occur around midnight tonight, but if you’re out late today, watch for an earlier shift in wind and corresponding wind loading of easterly terrain from our large fetch zones. Additionally, a remote possibility does exist for an avalanche to entrain existing snow in isolated areas and contribute to overall size.

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.

Secondary Avalanche Problem – Dry Loose

Dry Loose




Steep, wind sheltered terrain will be prone to dry loose sluffing as new snow accumulates today. While small in size, always remember that a small loose snow avalanche in the wrong place can knock you off your feet and be a big deal. Additionally, sluff tends to pile relatively low in terrain, especially below ice climbs, and ultimately helps to build cohesive slabs in these locations.

What is a Dry Loose Snow Avalanche?

   Dry Loose avalanches are the release of dry unconsolidated snow and typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. These avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

The wind slabs that formed over the past week have finally had time to gain stability; today’s avalanche problem is primarily based on inbound snow and wind. In the past two days with many skiers and climbers in the terrain, just one human triggered avalanche has been reported. These older wind slabs do seem to have a firm over soft structure but have become largely unreactive to a human trigger. Today starts with low avalanche danger for most terrain. As new slabs build and avalanche danger increases today, it’s important to remember that today’s moderate avalanche danger rating is based fully on the forecast of incoming weather. Watch for snowfall totals and wind direction that differ from the forecast if you’re playing in or around avalanche terrain today.

Additional Concerns

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

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
Trace Trace NC213 CM-4.0 C3.0 C-4.0 COvercastSnowView
0 CM 0 MM0CM213 CM-1.5 C0.0 C-11.5 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 0 MM0CM214 CM-11.0 C-4.5 C-14.0 CClearNo precipitation
0 CM 0.0 MMNC215 CM-13.0 C-9.5 C-15.0 CFewNo precipitation
Trace 0.1 MMNC216 CM-15.5 C-13.0 C-15.5 CBrokenSnowView

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
03/20/1917 F1 F 0.0 in 0.0 in32 MPH58 MPH

270 (W)

03/19/194 F-4 FTrace Trace 43.4 MPH63 MPH

300 (WNW)

03/18/193 F-6 F 0.03 in 0 in52.1 MPH82 MPH

280 (W)

03/17/192 F-6 F 0.07 in .5 in61.5 MPH110 MPH

270 (W)

03/16/1925 F2 F 0.24 in 2.3 in67.5 MPH97 MPH

280 (W)

03/15/1941 F25 F 0.04 inTrace 54 MPH105 MPH

250 (WSW)

03/14/1940 F17 F Trace in Trace in27.7 MPH75 MPH

200 (SSW)

03/13/1924 F11 F .07 in .8 in29 MPH52 MPH

290 (WNW)

03/12/1911 F-1 F 0.14 in 1.9 in65 MPH104 MPH

280 (W)

03/11/1917 F6 F 0.35 in 4.4 in77 MPH114 MPH

280 (W)

03/10/1925 F4 F .35 in 3.7 in47.2 MPH94 MPH

150 (SSE)

03/09/1919 F0 F 0 in 0 in36.1 MPH70 MPH

290 (WNW)

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 03/10/2019 at 7:20 AM.

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