Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00 Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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

Huntington Ravine: All forecast areas in Huntington Ravine 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 forecast area.

After several exciting and exhausting days of intense storm conditions from a powerful Nor’easter, things are beginning to improve.  In fact, by the end of the week we may be watching the thermometers rise to record temperatures for the New Year.  I know many of you have been patiently waiting for the mountain to relax a bit and today is providing you with the most reasonable opportunity to get out and enjoy winter since the storm began on Sunday night.  Before charging into the Ravines, take a deep breath and ponder the avalanche danger.  This recent storm brought around a foot and half of new snow (40 cm) with winds beginning out of the NE and working their way to the NW on Monday.  Winds remained out of the NW yesterday with strong gusts reaching over 100 mph (161 kph).  Brief breaks in the clouds yesterday afternoon allowed us to observe that (to no surprise) avalanche activity had occurred in both Ravines.  Clouds didn’t pull back enough to reveal the entire story and this morning we are greeted with a thick cloud bank that is preventing us from seeing the Ravines.  We have rated most forecast areas Moderate due to the potential of people triggering slabs deposited over the past couple of days.  Due to the strong wind speeds, I expect to find areas scoured down to old surface or very hard wind slab in a number of places.  I also expect to find some unnerving wind slab that could avalanche if it is irritated by the additional load of a person.  We hope to sort this distribution out today if the weather cooperates.  The areas in Tuckerman Ravine that are posted Considerable are the places that are the most likely to produce natural avalanches.  Today’s winds are forecasted to remain out of the NW with speeds between 35 and 60 mph (56 and 97 kph).  These winds may continue to move snow into sheltered areas and create new and potentially unstable wind slabs.  While some reasonable options may exist for traveling in avalanche terrain, it will require skill in the art of route finding and assessing snow stability to manage the conditions safely.  Also be mindful of what is going on above you.  If you are in the clouds you won’t be able to see if wind loading is continuing or if another party is crossing a suspect slope while you are in the run-out.

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.

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

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