Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine

Posted 8:35a.m., Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine: The Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl have Considerable avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. All other forecasted areas of Tuckerman have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  The Little Headwall and Lower Snowfields are not posted due to a lack of snow in these areas.

Huntington Ravine: All forecast areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. The Escape Hatch is not posted due to a lack of snow in this area.

When I look outside at the weather today, I get this feeling down in my gut saying that things are all right in the world, as if everything is normal again. Well, maybe the rest of the world would disagree, but here on Mt. Washington we’ve got cold temperatures, a couple inches of new snow, and wind blowing it across the mountain tops. That seems right for mid-January. Just over 2” (5cm) of snow has fallen across all elevations with densities coming in between 3.6% and 5.2%, depending on where it was measured. Snowfall started with winds out of the SW that then shifted to the W and increased in speed overnight. Today they will shift farther to the NW and maintain their 40-55+mph (64-88kph) velocities. This combination of new snow and wind will cause the avalanche danger to trend upward today. The areas that are of most concern are those that are rated Considerable, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl, as we believe in these areas the possibility for natural avalanche activity will exist. All other areas will also be creeping upward as wind loading continues. The critical variable for today is just how much loading will take place before the supply is exhausted. With the amounts of snow we’ve received and the forecast for clearing late in the day, we feel that some areas rated as Moderate will get into the upper end of that rating’s range. Examples of this are the Lobster Claw and Right Gully in Tuckerman, as well as Yale and Damnation gullies in Huntington. Other areas are starting from a point farther down on the danger scale, and therefore may not push the boundaries of what we’d call Moderate, but will still end up in the Moderate range nonetheless. It’s a good day to remember that avalanche danger is a dynamic process. You’ll need to be paying attention to the weather and assessing conditions as you go.

In addition to increasing avalanche danger today, the ravines will be in the fog for most of the day. This will make it more difficult to see the hazards from a safe distance. There are A LOT of potential human triggers running around on the mountain today—we’ve already seen nearly 100 people heading up Lion Head as of 8a.m.! Cold temperatures are also going to be a formidable opponent, so pack appropriately.

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.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. 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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