Brown one day-White the next.

The mountain has been doing a pretty good job during the early season as a flip flopper between wanting to be either brown with vegetation or white with snow.  We’ve seen some good snow accumulations completely melt out and watched ice development come and go as we endured a very warm November and early December. Let’s hope with yesterday’s snow storm this is all behind us.  The summit picked up 9.1” (23cm) of snow melting to 1.22” (3cm) of water producing an average snow density of 13.4%.  Snow came in wet as it slowly transitioned from the 0.56” (1.4cm) of rain on Wednesday 12/7.  This transition generated snow a little heavier than the 13.4% average early on and certainly ended quite a bit lighter as temperatures fell to 5 degrees F near the storm’s conclusion.  Wind speeds ramped up during the event peaking at 117mph (188kph) from the NW as the system pushed out of the area during the early afternoon on Thursday the 8th.

Although this storm was great remember our winter wonderland is still an infant as the mountain was generally starting from a brown and grey hue 48 hours ago.  Therefore, any water ice is very thin and snow fields of any size are far and few between.  However it finally looks like a winter trend is settling into place with summit temperatures in the teens and falling to zero over the weekend.  Looking out over the next week it appears higher summit temperatures will stay below the mid twenties so the future is looking bright!

We still are not issuing advisories due to the lack of size-able base layers for new snow deposition to avalanche on.  Watch new snow accumulation closely as the nooks and crannies get filled in and expect some pockets of instability to be an issue soon.  As I have mentioned in the past we won’t start issuing advisories for the first 20’ by 40’ pocket of snow that develops on some early season mixed ice route or near the horizon of a gully or two, but will when some more widespread issues develop.  Pay attention and remember if it’s big enough to recreate on its big enough to avalanche.  We continue to monitor the situation daily and will issue a General Advisory or 5 Scale Forecast when needed.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience.
  • You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake Shelters, or the caretaker at the Harvard Cabin.

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