Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 12-24-2013

Expires at 12:00 midnight Tuesday, December 24, 2013.

All forecast areas of Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger today. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Be aware of the potential for isolated pockets of windslab today. Last night the summit received 1.6” of new snow along with WNW winds; this is often just enough snow and wind to create problems in areas sheltered from the winds, such as the Lip of Tuckerman or parts of Central Gully in Huntington. There is really not much to say for widespread avalanche problems today. After a prolonged thaw with ample rain, temperatures have plummeted and the older snowpack has locked up in ice.

Outside of avalanche problems, there are other hazards you ought to be thinking about. The first is generally nasty hiking conditions, especially if you go off the beaten path. We highly recommend crampons for travel in steep icy terrain or other traction for travel on hiking trails. Another problem you may encounter is ice dam formation. As temperatures drop, drainage channels get plugged with ice, causing water pressure to build behind the ice. This can be annoying or it can be very dangerous, but you never know which until you release the pressure with your ice tool or crampon.

WEATHER: Today’s increasing winds may allow some additional snow loading, but this should not be significantly contributing to the further development of avalanche potential. You should take a moment to review the weather forecast before heading above treeline today. Temperatures will be falling to subzero F while winds ramp up through the day, going past the hurricane force criteria this evening. Add lowering cloud levels to the mix and this all makes today a good day to move efficiently and get off the mountain early.

Looking into the future, Christmas Day looks to be a more pleasant one on the mountain. This will be followed by a chance for a light snowfall on Thursday and then more high pressure for the weekend. Unfortunately, we have no significant snowstorms looming on the immediate horizon.

SNOWPACK: Our snowpack took a beating from the rain. If you are looking for an interesting, layered snowpack, you’re unlikely to find it here. What you will find is a uniform layer of refrozen grains of snow, capped off with a freezing rain crust and a dusting of new snow. In some isolated terrain features, you may find deeper pockets of new windslab on top of this crust. These areas should be approached with caution.

Current snow coverage is thin across the mountain. If you were to ask, I wouldn’t recommend coming up here just to ski the Sherburne. As for heading into the ravines seeking snow, don’t expect much there, either. The gullies of Huntington have more exposed rock than is typical for this time of year.  The same goes for Tuckerman; it’s pretty bony up there. That said, the summer hiking trails through the ravines are buried under snow and ice, making them full blown mountaineering adventures rather than just a challenging hike. With any luck today, I’ll get some breaks in the clouds and be able to get some photos posted online.

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 7:30 Tuesday. Tuesday, December 24, 2013.  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

2013-12-24 print friendly