Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 5-02-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Wednesday 5-02-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

April, quickly being ancient history, became our most impressive snowfall month of the winter with a tad over 40”.  Yes very sad, but the bright side is the numbers show once again that it isn’t over till it’s over.  Another screwy fact is the average temperature in April was just a hair over the March mercury and only several days ago the summit broke a daily low record that stood for the past 65 years.  We say it often, but I just love the unpredictable nature of our New England mountain weather!  So looking forward into May-the good news?  If you enjoy solitude the Ravine should be pretty quiet over the next 72 hours.  The less than pleasant news?  Everything in the weather data appears to be pointing to continued moisture and dreariness over the next few days.  Higher summits may get some mixed precipitation, but the vast majority of terrain will see H2O’s liquid form.  Yesterday, the summit of Washington started the month off right with just under an inch of snow in addition to freezing rain.  Just enough for a reminder to be prepared in the mountains with the right gear.  Milder air will move in slowly bringing the upper elevations into the 40’s with light winds by tomorrow.  Overall forecasts are expecting a general drizzle and occasional shower today and tomorrow before picking up into Friday as another system moves in.  How does this affect avalanches? As discussed yesterday we could envision a scenario where small pockets of relatively new snow from last Friday and yesterday sluff off of steep terrain with additional warming and rain.  Yesterday’s weather had this potential higher than today, but it can’t be completely ruled out as of yet.  Our danger ratings are primarily focused on discussing slab avalanche potential as they are far more dangerous, fast, and destructive, but point release sluffs can be quite harmful if you become entrained in the wrong place.

Expect the continuation of our typical springtime hazards such as icefall, crevasses and undermined snow as liquid precipitation returns. You won’t be able to see any of these before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them. Warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with a lot of icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway also has reasonable snow coverage, but the lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

5-2-2012 Print Version