Avalanche Forecast for Wednesday, January 16, 2019

This forecast was published 01/16/2019 at 7:00 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

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

Danger Rating by Zone

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

Aspect/Elevation

Likelihood

Size

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.

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 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 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 01/16/2019 at 7:00 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest