Avalanche Advisory 1-9-2012

Expires 12:00 midnight, January 9, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features; evaluate snow and terrain carefully and identify features of concern. The exception to this rating is Hillman’s Highway which has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches there are unlikely. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Some areas are not yet posted due to the overall lack of snow. These include Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall in Tuckerman. Forecasts for these locations will begin when conditions warrant.

Huntington Ravine has Moderate and Low avalanche danger today. Yale, Central, Pinnacle, and Odell have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. North, Damnation, and South gullies have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. The Escape Hatch is not posted due to lack of snow cover.

Ratings for today are identical to yesterday, though an additional 0.9” (2.3cm) of snow was recorded on the summit through yesterday evening. This makes for a total of 9.3” (27cm) for January at the summit Observatory, much less has been recorded at our Hermit Lake snowplot. The ravines are still broken up by bands of rock, brush, ice, etc, but the snowfields throughout the area are growing in size thanks to consistent wind transport of the snow that has fallen. On the whole, my concerns for today are primarily related to the 1.7” (4.3cm) of new snow that has fallen since Saturday. There were some stability issues lingering from before the weekend, however, the additional new snow and uppermost layers have surpassed these as the foremost stability problem. You should expect to see a variety of surface conditions depending on your location. In areas most exposed to winds you’ll find harder slabs that have more strength, while in more protected areas you can expect to find softer layers with less strength.

Considering the recent wind speed and direction, the protected areas where you will find the most unstable snow are the middle to upper sections of E and SE aspects. This includes the tops of Yale, Central, and Pinnacle in Huntington, as well as the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl of Tuckerman. Stronger winds from previous days had deposited snow into the lower sections of Huntington’s gullies as well. Use caution as you approach the climbs since these areas are often where climbers trigger avalanches. Also be aware that the broken up nature of the forecast areas is creating a highly variable snowpack within relatively small areas.

High pressure will be moving out today and more light snow may fall both during the day and through the overnight hours. I don’t expect accumulations to be much today, but tomorrow may be enough to raise the danger level. Later in the week a stronger system looks to be heading our way. Let’s all hope for cold temperatures to keep the precipitation of the frozen type.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory 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.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
  • Posted 8:10a.m., Sunday January 9, 2012. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

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