Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 2-16-2012

Expires 12:00 midnight, February 16, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine and Huntington Ravine have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. The Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall are not posted due to an overall lack of snow. Forecasts for these locations will begin when conditions warrant.

This morning it is my pleasure to bring you a double dose of good news—or, more precisely, to reiterate the weather forecast put out this morning by our friends on the top of Mt. Washington and to give you more or less the same avalanche forecast that Chris wrote yesterday. Both of these are better than what you might be seeing if you’re looking at a weather forecast for the valleys or southern NH. Let’s get into the stability discussion first. Snow stability in the ravines is generally good. We did receive a dusting of snow since yesterday, but this came without much wind at all and will be insufficient to make any difference to avalanche conditions. Today you’ll have many options for different mountaineering routes around the mountain, so get out an enjoy them. Of course, you should still take proper precautions when traveling through avalanche terrain.

The other bit of good news comes to us from the Mt. Washington Observatory and the National Weather Service. Apparently there is going to be some snow in the mountains late today and overnight. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it when I read it for myself. Snow in February? Amazing. This highly unusual weather event is expected to deliver 2-4” (5-10cm) of snow to the higher terrain of the White Mountains. Ok, please excuse me if that’s too heavy handed with the sarcasm. After only 107 total inches (271cm) of snow since November 1 at the summit, of which only 11” has come in the last two weeks, I’m feeling less than optimistic about the prospects for the rest of the winter. Regardless of how I feel, there is snow coming tonight. This snow will come with winds from the SW shifting to the W and increasing in speeds. On Friday we’ll likely see some lingering upslope snow showers, hopefully accumulating to a couple more inches. Winds will continue to increase in velocity, setting us up for a holiday weekend with avalanche danger greater than where it stands today.

We’ve fielded a lot of questions recently about how conditions are coming along up here. It’s no secret that this has been a very dry winter, with a seemingly excessive number of warm days up high. The slopes of Tuckerman Ravine are snow covered, but there are still lots of exposed rocks and brush. The floor of the ravine has seen very few large avalanches, which is the primary way it fills in with snow. Most of the gullies have also had few avalanches, so their runouts are not very well filled in either. Getting onto the Little Headwall is a nasty bushwhack no matter which way you go about it. Despite the general lack of snow, conditions aren’t too bad. Keep in mind that surface conditions for travel can change greatly from day to day, as can the avalanche danger. One day might be “good” or even “great” conditions, but the following day might be “horrifying.”

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 8:00am. 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

2012-02-16 Print friendly