Avalanche Forecast for Thursday, January 17, 2019

This forecast was published 01/17/2019 at 7:03 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 01/17/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

Wind slabs in steep terrain should remain on your radar today. Older, stubborn and large slabs plus newer but smaller wind slabs are the main avalanche concern and earn a LOW danger rating. Both wind slabs are stubborn to a human trigger, but some exceptions may exist in the form of softer pockets. All of these slabs are resting on a smooth ice crust on which the last avalanche cycle occurred. If you brave the frigid and windy weather, bring your avalanche rescue gear along with crampons and an ice axe.

2019-1-17 Printable

Forecast Area

Mountain Weather

An arctic clipper brought an inch and a half of snow to higher terrain yesterday, with west wind averaging 60 mph and gusting to 108 mph. The temperature dropped 25 degrees in the past 24 hours to a brisk -17F. The mercury will rise to, but fall short of, the 0F mark with wind remaining in the 55-70 mph range under clear skies through the daylight hours. No snow is forecast today, though more snow may fall late tonight with more tomorrow which may bring 1-3” total.  

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Wind slab that formed on January 10th and 11th remain a concern, primarily due to the icy bed surface that they are resting on. Though it would be unlikely for a person to trigger one of these slabs, the resulting avalanche could be large. Isolated pockets of wind slab formed yesterday due to new snow and a strong west wind. Areas in the Gulf of Slides and the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine are most likely to contain the greatest concentration of this wind slab. These will be mostly firm and stubborn to trigger.

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

Cold, clear conditions and a strong ice crust from Dec 23rd should keep you thinking about low probability and high consequence hard slab avalanches if you brave the cold weather and head into steep, high elevation terrain today. Triggering any type of firm slab that we grow so readily here usually takes some bad luck to find the thin spot in the slab. Stability tests of this type of avalanche problem generally show moderate strength weak layers but little propagation potential. Continue to dig but remember to limit your exposure to the risk by managing your terrain, moving one at a time and carrying your avalanche rescue gear. As we move forward in the season, realize that all our main avalanche paths are now fully developed with around 5’ of snow on the ground and multiple avalanche cycles filling in our paths.

Additional Concerns

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

Come to a free avalanche awareness presentation at the LL Bean store in Freeport tonight, 7-8:30pm. Frank will be presenting a Know Before You Go program followed by information on the new forecast area with time for a Q&A session.

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
Trace Trace NC201 CM-14.5 C-9.0 C-16.5 COvercastSnow
Trace Trace Trace204 CM-16.5 C-9.5 C-16.5 CClearNo precipitation
13 CM 10.7 MM 12%13CM205 CM-10.0 C-2.0 C-10.0 COvercastNo precipitation
Trace 0.1 MM30CM195 CM-7.0 C-5.0 C-15.0 COvercastNo precipitation
11 CM 6.5 MM 10%NC196 CM-14.0 C-6.0 C-15.0 COvercastSnow

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
02/17/1914 F-3 F 0.00 in 0 in37 MPH74 MPH

310 (NW)

02/16/198 F-5 F .05 in .8 in52.4 MPH84 MPH

310 (NW)

02/15/1925 F7 F .37 in 2.7 in45.3 MPH84 MPH

240 (WSW)

02/14/1919 F-4 F .13 in 1.1 in56.2 MPH90 MPH

280 (W)

02/13/1916 F0 F .87 in 5.1 in46.3 MPH92 MPH

280 (W)

02/12/1912 F2 F .54 in 3.3 in37.5 MPH76 MPH

130 (SE)

02/11/196 F-9 F 0 in 0 in59.0 MPH86 MPH

330 (NNW)

02/10/19-4 F-13 F 0 in 0 in65.3 MPH101 MPH

290 (WNW)

02/09/19-7 F-14 F .01 in .2 in87.5 MPH148 MPH

280 (W)

02/08/1937 F-8 F .20 in .2 in71 MPH124 MPH

230 (SW)

02/07/1934 F22 F .04 in .2 in32.2 MPH56 MPH

250 (WSW)

02/06/1932 F17 F .23 in .4 in30.9 MPH68 MPH

330 (NNW)

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 01/17/2019 at 7:03 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest