Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:45a.m., Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine: The Lip, Sluice, Right Gully, and Lobster Claw have Considerable avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The Center Bowl, Chute, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. The Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall are not posted due to a general lack of snow in these areas.

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

If you think you’re head is a little foggy from last night’s revelry, you should try to see through the soup hovering in the ravines this morning. This surely is an interesting and rather unwelcome start to the New Year. Temperatures at Hermit Lake are currently a balmy 42F (5C) which is causing our already thin snowpack to grow thinner by the hour. Throughout the day, temperatures will remain well above freezing in the ravines. Light rain may fall during the daylight hours and is likely after take place after dark. All this adds up to quite a bit of free water in the snowpack, and this water is what gives us concerns about snowpack stability on the northern side of Tuckerman. Prior to the melting, new snow had been deposited into S and SE aspects of Tuckerman Ravine (i.e. the same areas that are rated Considerable today). These areas had seen some settlement, but as they become saturated with liquid from prolonged melting and rain, the chances for avalanche activity in this new snow layer will increase. Today’s Considerable rating is based on this possibility of natural avalanche activity. The interesting part is that as avalanche danger increases today, the most appropriate rating jumps right from Low to Considerable. There will be a critical moment when the potential for natural avalanches shifts from “unlikely” to “possible.” Don’t expect your snowpits to give you much reliable data about when this will happen. Wet snow avalanches can be difficult to predict, even for professionals. Thankfully New England frequently offers us chances to witness this phenomenon, and our collective experience here tells us it’s a good day to be cautious.

Elsewhere in Tuckerman and throughout Huntington the new snow was scoured down by strong winds. Since the slabs that concern us in the northern side of Tuckerman are either very small or altogether absent, Low avalanche danger is today’s rating here. However, warm temperatures like today are not necessarily a day at the beach. You should still be mindful of hazards such as the potential for falling ice and rock, ice screw placements that melt out rapidly, etc. If you’re heading out for an extended trip, expect temperatures to rapidly fall through the day tomorrow. Summit temperatures look like they’ll drop about 40 degrees F over a 24-36 hour period!

Finally, the John Sherburne Ski Trail will be hit hard by this warm spell. Already some sections are melting out; you should expect rocks, open water, brush, and bare spots.

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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