Avalanche Forecast for Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This forecast was published 03/13/2019 at 7:03 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 03/13/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

Firm wind slabs in our mid elevation slide paths and softer wind slabs in our lower elevation paths will be subjected to relatively rapid warming today if temperatures continue to rise as forecast. Rapid warming of the snowpack is a sign of increasing risk of avalanches, especially if it is the first warming to which the snow has been subjected. Expect an increasing risk of triggering an avalanche in a slab weakened by sun, warm temperatures and high thin cloud cover. Human triggered avalanches are possible today so reduce your exposure by travelling one at a time and limit time spent in avalanche paths. Human triggered avalanches remain possible on shady slopes as well due to the recent formation of these wind slabs. It may feel like spring in the valleys but our snowpack says it’s still avalanche season. Avalanche danger is MODERATE today; evaluate snow and terrain carefully.

2019-3-13 Printable

Forecast Area

Mountain Weather

Two inches of snow fell on the summit through mid-day yesterday bringing the total for the past 48 hours to just over six inches. Strong WNW wind in the 60 mph range continued into the evening before calming slowly through the night to the current 25 mph. The summit is currently 18F with 12F at Crawford Notch. Light wind from the NW and warming temperatures are on tap today with generally fog free conditions on the summit. A warm but weak system will begin pushing high clouds into the area that may lead to overcast conditions later this afternoon before delivering a couple inches of snow to the high country this evening. Temperatures today are forecast to rise into the twenties. Light wind and south facing slopes at Ravine level and below are likely to rise above freezing.  

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




Our snow structure is a patchwork of wind slabs whose size and thickness are largely determined by their orientation to downwind fetch and degree to which they were exposed to pounding winds. Weak layers of softer snow may have slowly gained strength in the past 24 hours but today expect reduced stability as sun and warm temperatures weaken bonds in surface snow and send free water into the snow pack. Older wind slabs scattered around the range are bordering on the definition of persistent slabs.

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 – Wet Loose

Wet Loose




Areas of softer snow will be affected more quickly by sun and warm temperatures. Wet loose sluff may occur on or below steep areas, especially on or below cliffs that absorb sunshine. This type of avalanche is a warning sign for the more dangerous wet slab avalanche type. Wet loose avalanches or sluffs can add load to and trigger a slab.

What is a Wet Loose Avalanche?

  Wet Loose avalanches are the release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Snow will soften today but not in the confidence building way that you’d want for classic spring skiing. Signs that this process is leading to instability include surface snow that becomes wet enough to wet your glove when you make a snowball, trees and steep slopes shedding balls of snow that roll down a slope, and increased penetration of your boots into the snow. Very firm slabs without a weak layer beneath (which you cannot drive your pole handle into) will provide safer travel and will benefit from today’s solar gain. There is 235 cm of snow at the stake at Hermit Lake!

Additional Concerns

The Gulf of Slides and John Sherburne 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 03/13/2019 at 7:03 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest