Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:00a.m., Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine: Hillman’s Highway, Left Gully, the Chute and Center Bowl will have HIGH avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches are very likely. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.  All other forecast areas in Tuckerman will have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely. 

Huntington Ravine: North, Damnation, and Yale Gullies will have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely.  All other forecast areas in Huntington will have HIGH avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered avalanches are very likely. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

Fog has engulfed the upper mountain, the temperature is on the rise and a storm is quickly approaching.  A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the region as a warm front moves our way and snow approaches our doorstep.  We’re starting the morning with Low and Moderate avalanche danger in most areas but we’ll be climbing rapidly up the scale as the day moves along and the storm intensifies. The best news I’ve heard so far is that we’re expecting S winds with speeds that are ideal for transport and loading of snow.  Why would I be so excited for wind-loading out of the S you wonder?  The reason is that areas with N and NE aspects such as Hillman’s Highway, the Escape Hatch and South Gully are far behind their neighbors in development this season.  We expect to see a decent avalanche cycle run out of this storm and the areas that have so far been snow-deprived should reap the benefits. Avalanches will push farther than they have so far this season so you’ll need to use conservative decision-making to avoid being in the run-out.  The radar shows that it won’t be long before the snow starts and it is expected to fall through the day being especially heavy at times.  During this same period we should see a little more temperature rebound and the higher terrain should push into the lower 20’s F.  I expect that snow density will increase as the day moves along and with constant snowfall an upside-down layering will develop in the snowpack.  Heavier and denser slabs overlying lighter snow is a red flag situation in terms of snow stability.  The worst news that I’ve heard so far regarding the storm is that mixed precipitation is still in the forecast for tonight though the highest elevations may be spared.  This doesn’t bode well for the Rally to Restore a Crustless Winter.  The consolation is that snow should continue after the formation of said crust layer and hopefully bury it quickly.  Out of sight, out of mind is not a good guiding philosophy when concerned with snow science but buried crust is better than a surface crust if you want to make some turns!  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that colder air keeps the precipitation in purely snow form throughout the event but you can bet we’ll be watching for the crust in future field explorations. 

The Sherburne Ski Trail has been providing great turns and today’s storm will add to its excellence.  Get it before the mixed precip moves in for the best experience but watch your tips as the snowpack was thin to nonexistent just one week ago.  If you’re thinking of going to the summit in the coming days make sure you check back here to see the current status of Lion Head.  We’ll be making the shift to the Winter Route later in the week and if you’re watching the advisory you’ll be the first to know.

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.

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

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