General Advisory, Friday, April 26, 2019

This information was published 04/26/2019 at 7:03 AM.


This is an archived avalanche forecast.

The Bottom Line

Heavy rain will continue to work on our snowpack and hanging, frozen waterfalls. Glide cracks, often referred to locally as crevasses, will open and many remaining warm and softening snow bridges will continue to collapse into flood stage streams. The main watercourse beneath the snowpack in the Lip and Headwall area stands a chance of a significant blowout and certainly the lower waterfall hole may open by the end of this rain. Other water courses exist beneath popular ski descents around the range. In the off chance you enjoy skiing in heavy rain, consider that the threat and consequences of falling into one of these rain swollen, under-the-snowpack rivers will be reduced after the rain stops and the snow refreezes again.

2019-4-26 General Advisory

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center will no longer issue daily avalanche forecasts for the 2018/19 season. Instead, we will post an updated General Advisory 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 where it passes by Lunch Rocks and through the Lip and above the 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 with the continued above freezing conditions and heavy rain this weekend.

The switch to a General Advisory 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 Tucks, peruse our Incidents and Accidents pages for spring related incidents involving 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.  

Mountain Weather

Heavy rain will begin Friday morning and continue overnight and well into the day Saturday, bringing close to 2 ½” of rain total by the time it is over. Temperatures on the summit will be on the mid to high 30’s through Saturday. A shift to freezing rain and a frozen snowpack may occur late Saturday, though this seems limited to a brief period at higher elevations. Sunday morning will start off cold with a refrozen snowpack likely but should warm under clear skies. A refreeze may return on Sunday night with summit temperatures dipping down to 15F early Monday morning.

Forecast Discussion

Significant melting has occurred, bringing springtime objective hazards to the forefront. If you are in the mountains today be watching for:

Steep snow and ice in gullies an trails, such as the Lion Head Winter Route, becomes very hard when the lower snowpack layers emerge with melting. Currently, the Winter Lion Head route is very icy and requires crampons and an ice axe to climb with any security.

The young man who was last seen heading up the Winter Lion Head Route on March 8 remains missing.  It is thought that he may have been intent on taking his own life. If that is the case, his remains may be somewhere within the Cutler River Drainage,  around the summit or within a few hours hike of the steep part of Lion Head Winter Route. Please report any potential clues to the NH Fish and Game officers at 603-271-3361 or to USFS Snow Rangers at or via AMC Front Desk staff at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. If it is clear that you have found him, please call 911.

Additional Information

The Sherburne and Gulf of Slides ski trails are no longer completely snow covered to Pinkham Notch. Expect ice patches, open stream crossings, rocks and bare patches. We will likely be closing a lower section of the Sherburne soon in order to prevent destructive erosion of the trail. When we do, please do your part to preserve the quality of the trail by removing your skis and hiking the rest of the way down to Pinkham on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Details on daily snowfall totals, precipitation type, total depth of snow and other information can be found on our page devoted to snow study plot data. Click here to check it out.

Recent snowpack and avalanche observations can be found here and on Instagram. Your observations help improve our forecast product. Please take a moment and submit a photo or two and a brief description of snow and avalanche information that you gather in the field.

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 04/26/2019 at 7:03 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest