Avalanche Forecast for Wednesday, January 16, 2019

This information was published 01/16/2019 at 7:00 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 01/16/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

The bullseye data for any new avalanche concerns today will be the amount and rate at which new snow falls today. Though only a small amount of snow is forecast to fall, the new snow will be blown and drifted by westerly winds blowing at a perfect speed for building wind slabs. Wind slabs built on the 10th and 11th have proven unreactive in the past several days and earn a LOW danger rating today. Savvy skiers and climbers will continue to use normal precautions, especially when seeking out larger, smoother slopes for riding. Heavier snow squalls this afternoon are possible so be on the lookout for new wind slabs to form quickly if strong wind speeds combine with the new snow blowing into steep terrain generally facing east. The danger rating could rise to MODERATE quickly with small pockets of touchy wind slab forming and then growing to something more sizable.

2019-01-16 Printable

Mountain Weather

Dry conditions continued through yesterday with moderate wind, fog and seasonably cold temperatures. A cold front will charge through the region this afternoon which presents a wild card in today’s forecast. While estimates from the MWObs and the NWS are calling for a trace to 2”, there is also the possibility of forcing that brings heavier squalls along with some thunder. This type of system often brings graupel or rimed particles which can make slabs especially touchy. Winds tonight will increase to near 100 mph as temperatures drop rapidly to around -15F. Cold but less windy conditions will follow until another round of light snow arrives Thursday night.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Wind slabs formed on the 10th and 11th remain a concern, primarily due to the icy bed surface that they are resting on. New wind slabs may form today due to new snow and increasing winds from the west. The new snow falling today will build small but touchy wind slabs. These will be relatively harmless in most places until snowfall accumulates or exceeds the forecast. Both avalanche concerns will be hard to see in the terrain due to summit fog.

  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.

Forecast Discussion

Cold and clear conditions since the last avalanche cycle have not promoted the kind of settlement and bonding that make the older wind slab concerns go away. You may even be able to find some early facets forming near the Dec 22 ice crust that was the bed surface for the cycle of large avalanches on January 9-10. This is the kind of avalanche problem that can punish the unwary or the overconfident. Don’t be either, carry avalanche rescue gear and spread out when moving through consequential areas.

Additional Information

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

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
0 CMTrace 0CM103 CM-18.5 C-12.0 C-22.0 COvercastNo precipitationView
22 CM 16.6 MM 9%26CM107 CM-20.0 C-4.0 C-22.0 CFewNo precipitation
3 CM 2.9 MM 11%NC85 CM-7.0 C-4.0 C-7.0 COvercastSnow
2 CM MM 16%NC82 CM-4.0 C-3.5 C-7.0 COvercastSnowView
Trace 1.0 MMTrace79 CM-7.0 C-2.0 C-9.0 COvercastNo 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
01/17/204 F-18 F .03 in .4 in75 MPH110 MPH

320 (NW)

01/16/2018 F-11 F .048 in 6.1 in43.3 MPH117 MPH

330 (NNW)

01/15/2020 F11 F 0.25 in 1.8 in9.3 MPH74 MPH

290 (WNW)

01/14/2020 F10 F 0.03 in 0.7 in32 MPH69 MPH

280 (W)

01/13/2022 F14 F .04 in .8 in49.5 MPH81 MPH

240 (WSW)

01/12/2045 F8 F .84 in .4 in58.4 MPH104 MPH

260 (W)

01/11/2042 F29 F .32 in 0 in68.8 MPH119 MPH

230 (SW)

01/10/2030 F12 F .22 in 1.3 in63.4 MPH102 MPH

260 (W)

01/09/2015 F-14 F .04 in .4 in50.1 MPH114 MPH

310 (NW)

01/08/2013 F-8 F .52 in 5.2 in43.5 MPH95 MPH

290 (WNW)

01/07/2016 F1 F .17 in 1.6 in41.8 MPH90 MPH

280 (W)

01/06/2010 F3 F .2 in 2.2 in32.8 MPH71 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 01/16/2019 at 7:00 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest