Snowpack and Avalanche Information for Monday, May 25, 2020

This information was published 05/25/2020 at 1:34 PM.


This is an archived avalanche forecast.

The Bottom Line

Snowpack melting continues with forecast temperatures above freezing, all hours of the day, at all elevations for the next several days. Be vigilant to emerging hazards as the snowpack recedes where changes can occur quickly from day to day. Avalanches, falling ice and rock, snow undermined by water, large glide cracks, and other mountain hazards listed below remain potential threats until melt out is complete. 

Please review the objective hazards listed below and keep these in mind as you plan your day:

Above treeline, much of the snow is gone from the Alpine Garden. Please limit walking to durable surfaces like rocks or snow and ice to preserve the delicate and slow growing plant communities in the alpine.

MWAC has moved to a Snowpack and Avalanche Information bulletin (known in prior years as a General Bulletin) until the end of the season. Snowpack and Avalanche Information is issued when unstable snow may exist within our forecast areas but after 5-scale avalanche forecasts have stopped. Please remember that avalanches can and do occur after 5-scale avalanche forecasts have ceased! 

Tuckerman Ravine, Huntington Ravine and the Gulf of Slides will remain closed to all use until May 31 and possibly later as winter conditions and deep snow remain. 

On March 30th, the USFS MWAC took a tactical pause in forecasting operations. Since that time, forecasting and closure monitoring have continued, though forecasts were sent directly to local mountain rescue organizations only.  As the public continues to recreate and winter conditions persist in the mountains, it is apparent that current snowpack and avalanche information could be helpful in reducing risks. 

Please realize that volunteer rescue resources are currently limited due to concerns about community spread of the Coronavirus. 

Mountain Weather

The warm temperatures, generally clear to partly cloudy skies and wind speeds below 50 mph experienced this past week will continue for at least the next several days. Apart from the slight chance of an occasional shower, no significant precipitation is expected through Wednesday.  

Despite the date on the calendar, new snowfall and winter conditions are possible during any month of the year at higher elevations in the Presidential Range. Spring and early summer bring rapid changes to our upper snowpack, with conditions often changing by the hour. Plan accordingly for these changes by reading the weather forecast before you head out (MWObs Higher Summits and NWS Hourly forecast). 

One tool to help reduce the chance for unwelcome surprises is the hourly weather information produced by MWObs summit staff. The NWS displays the hourly data going back 7 days here.  

Forecast Discussion

Despite having a deep snowpack lasting late into the spring, the inevitable melting is happening. In the last week, we’ve observed sizable glide cracks appearing where there were none, spontaneous ice fall, and waterfall holes opening up. In steep terrain, small wet-loose sluff avalanches have occurred where unconsolidated surface snow was wetted by a warm sun. On hiking trails, the changes due to receding snow can be seen from one day to the next. Expected temperatures on the Mt. Washington summit near 60F on Tuesday and above 60F on Wednesday will surely accelerate melting. 

Additional Information

There’s still plenty of snow on hiking trails above 3500’ requiring the need for waterproof boots and microspike traction. Come prepared and have a better day. 

The alpine environment of the Presidential Range is home to plants that exist nowhere else in the world, in particular the area known as Monroe Flats. Bushwhacking from Lakes of the Clouds Hut to ski in Oakes Gulf takes you directly through the only non-transplanted home of Robbins Cinquefoil, a plant which only recently made it off the Endangered Species List. Please stick to walking on durable surfaces like rocks, snow and ice or established trails when walking anywhere above treeline.

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 05/25/2020 at 1:34 PM.

Jeff Fongemie
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest