Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, April 25, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has CONSIDERABLE and MODERATE avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely in The Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, and the Chute and are rated CONSIDERABLE as a result. All other areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely but human-triggered avalanches are possible in Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Left Gully, Hillman’s Highway, and Lower Snowfields. The only exception is the Little Headwall which has Low avalanche danger but has some open holes in the waterfall area. Use care if riding this and start from Connection Cache down the trail from the floor of the Ravine. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: A surprising amount of recent new snow and ideal wind speeds for loading lee slopes have built Wind Slabs in Tuckerman Ravine. These wind slabs are likely to generate medium to large size avalanches, sensitive enough to be triggered by a skier, rider or climber and will have the ability to propagate a crack a long distance. They will be more than capable of burying a person and killing them by suffocation or trauma. This is true in Moderate as well as Considerable rated areas. Lower angle areas with bushes and rocks may be less prone to avalanche but could still be swept by debris from avalanches starting higher in the terrain. Once you pass the first aid cache on the way into the Ravine, 15 minutes up from Hermit Lake, you are in avalanche terrain.

WEATHER: Low visibility is expected to be a problem all day. Flat light and fog will make identification of critical snowpack details, as well as spotting people in avalanche start zones above you, a significant challenge today. A trace to 2” (TR to 5 cm) of new snow will further complicate things and add to our stability concerns. Cloud cover will keep temperatures below freezing even as the ambient temperature rises to the low 20’s F on the summit. Expect a windy, cold winter-like day.

SNOWPACK: A grainy and textured bed surface of refrozen corn snow allowed the initial new snow falling on it a few days ago to bond. The snow just above is our weak layer due to it being deposited during very low winds. Think of this layer as generally intact snowflakes with weak arms trying to hold the overlying firmer wind slab in place. These flakes are currently quivering and shaking due to the strain of holding up the wind slab which is likely to be thick in many of our start zones. In total, 9” (23 cm) of new snow built this wind slab on 40-60 mph (65- 95 km/h) W and NW winds. The wind slab is soft enough to crack easily and depending on the location will be finger to pencil hard. We have not been able to verify what has naturally avalanched, what has potentially been reloaded and what is harboring the thickest wind slabs. Because of this we need to assume all locations still possess substantial hazard and instabilities. Looking ahead, keep in mind the weakening affect that heat and filtered sunshine will have on this slab.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical springtime hazards have become less of a problem with the recent freeze-up. You should be aware of the potential of falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. The best you can do to mitigate the risk from these objective hazards is to avoid them, especially during times when they are more probable. Hazards such as emerging crevasses and holes in the Little Headwall may be hard to recognize today and tomorrow, due to being hidden by new snow. The greatest hazard today is the threat of avalanches, and debris running on to the floor of the Ravine. The Sherburne Ski Trail will have the lower section closed. You can ski (mostly) to the #3 crossover, then pack up the skis for the 3/4 miles of hiking down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 8:30 a.m., Saturday, April 25, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2015-04-25 Print friendly

The White Wolf? Weekend Update 4-24-2015

Talk about full on winter!  It’s really hard to believe it’s almost May with the full on conditions today.  No visibility, temperatures in the teens, and 8.3” of snow in the past 48hours as made for more like a February afternoon than a typical spring day.  We are most concerned about the increasing avalanche danger that has developed over the past 24 hours with some areas currently bumping the upper end of the Considerable rating.

Fine grains are mixing in with average sized crystals which are producing a high water content per inch of snowfall packing into some fairly dense slabs.  As we expected the main weaknesses can be found above the old surface in lower density slabs created yesterday during periods of light wind.  Snow should taper overnight, but forecasts expect continued low visibility and temperatures in the high teens, perhaps reaching 20F on the summits. A blustery morning should give way to a diminishing wind in the afternoon, but currently it appears a chance of precipitation will keep all of us on our toes for the day.

With the information I’m seeing right now, along the weather that was slapping my face today, there is no way to sugarcoat or get around the reality that we will have avalanche issues tomorrow.  Expect to see an elevated avalanche danger rating for a number of areas with some “Considerable” slats probable.  Avalanche experience, skills, equipment and a history of good conservative decision making will be important.  If you have these skills and abilities several other issues and challenges would run through my mind.  1. With potential low visibility, and being a Saturday in April, I would have a fair amount of angst for triggers above me that I can’t see.  Expect some users coming in from multiple locations like hyenas converging on desired prey   2. Will someone adjacent to you, seemingly far away, trigger an avalanche that will propagate to your location.  Or 3. To ski something safely will ‘ski cutting’ a slope to clear it send snow down onto others below.  Frankly, slab instability and lots of people just don’t mix in the confines of an alpine cirque with avalanche paths that converge in multiple locations.  It is very difficult to mitigate the multiple hazards that are reasonable during a quiet day midweek versus dealing with a busy Saturday.  It can spell a disaster mixing hazards and crowds.  I don’t say these things lightly, but I think it’s important to accurately portray the potential situation tomorrow.  And although it’s not lining up as the cover shot of the “Worst Case Scenario” books it might be found on page 5 or 6.

Okay that was important to get across. Now how could it be not all that bad?  Loading and snowfall today has me believing that we are fully in the midst of Considerable avalanche danger.  This means that natural avalanches are possible.  If this occurs in numerous slide paths today/tonight we may rid ourselves of a good deal of hazard.  Although this is hard to plan or count on, it’s a possibility.  If snow shuts down overnight the concern for natural avalanches will dissipate a bit tomorrow which may leave us with a number of areas potentially being Moderate on Saturday.  This is quite plausible, but we will undoubtedly have concern for human triggered avalanches.  “Moderate” means a lot of different things to people.  Read the full meanings, size, and potential destructive forces for “Low”, “Moderate”, and “Considerable” in the scale below.  For a minute, focus only on the definitions for LOW and CONSIDERABLE.  There’s a pretty big gap between them isn’t there!!??  Well that’s the hole MODERATE is trying to fill.  So in reality there is a difference between instability that is just a bit above Low versus just below Considerable.  I think tomorrow’s Moderate will be just coming off of Considerable.

danger-scale-english

I recognize these are hard things to plan around for coming to the mountain or not, but for what I’m seeing it may not be the best Saturday to head for east facing higher terrain from the Gulf of Slides to the Northern Presidentials.  Some improvement for Sunday is likely, but anticipate some lingering avalanche instabilities.  Truthful and accurate reporting is important to us and I frequently ask myself the self-monitoring question “Am I crying wolf?”.  Although I do believe things can play out a number of ways overnight the above discussion reflects a high likelihood of how it will all play out tomorrow.  Be sure to check the Avalanche Advisory each morning before heading up into avalanche terrain.  See Jeff’s video post about descending from the Ravine.  We’ll see you in the hills or on the internet. Chris

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, April 24, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Considerable and Moderate avalanche danger. The Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway have Considerable avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The Lobsterclaw, Right Gully, and the Lower Snowfields have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible. (The Little Headwall is falling apart and is not recommended. See posted video on our website if reading this hardcopy). Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM:  As of midnight the summit received 6.7″ (17cm) of snow during the previous 36 hours.  Since then it has been snowing lightly each hour which will continue through the day with up to another 2″ (5cm) forecasted. Therefore, expect Wind Slabs to exist and more to develop into the afternoon.  Anticipate the most instability on lee slopes of W and NW winds rated at “Considerable” such as the Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl/Headwall and Chute. Also be ready for areas posted at “Moderate” to be on the upper end of the rating’s definition, hedging towards Considerable this afternoon. With an increasing wind anticipate new layers near the surface to be denser than the layers deposited yesterday creating a classic, unstable and “upside down” wind slab.

WEATHER: The unsettled period of weather over the past couple of days, which will linger into the weekend, has been delivering a consistent slow steady snowfall.  6.7″ (17cm) of snow recorded in the past 36 hours, coupled with 2-5″ (5-13cm) expected over the next day, will continue our avalanche danger concerns into the weekend. Wind speeds over the past several hours have increased into the mid 60’s mph (95+kph) from the NW. This trend will dominate the day with velocities crawling towards 70+mph (112+kph)this afternoon. Summit temperatures are beginning the day at 12F (-11C) and will not move up much making for a cold winter experience.  Be ready for all these factors to work together limiting visibility in the alpine zone.

SNOWPACK: On Thursday snowfall began on a S wind and shifte d from the W during the last 4″ (10cm) of accumulation. W winds were moderate, blowing in the upper 30’s mph (50kph) for the vast majority of daylight hours.  Since midnight, speeds increased and have been gusting over 60mph (95kph) this morning. This general theme will create an unstable snowpack situation by building dense slabs with smaller wind beaten particles over lighter layers that developed yesterday.  These lighter less dense slabs should be the weak layer to look for in your stability tests.  I think you will find this above the interface with the old hard surface as initial bonding was fairly good.  Today requires avalanche experience, training, and a history of good decision making in unstable snow.  We are not in spring and have new cold snow instabilities to deal with that currently exist and will continue to build into tonight.   The avalanche hazard has increased from yesterday, although still within the Considerable rating, due to additional snow and higher wind speeds.  We are not yet at peak for these instability issues so expect an increasing hazard as the day wears on.  We’ll discuss the prognosis for Saturday and Sunday in the Weekend Update that will come out this afternoon.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical springtime hazards have emerged. You should be aware of the potential of falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. The best you can do to mitigate the risk from these objective hazards is to avoid them, especially during times when they are more probable.  The move back into winter over the past 48 hours has limited the development of these problems.  However, expect emerging crevasses and some undermining hard to recognize, due to being hidden by new snow.  The avalanche dangers listed above lead today’s objective hazards with crevassess and undermining following behind.

The Little Headwall has suffered from a collapsed section. We are no longer recommending this as a route out of the Bowl. The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed from the lower switchbacks to the parking lot due to mud.  Please cross over to the Tuck trail at the arrow sign and walk the short distance to your car.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 7:50a.m., Friday, April 24, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2015-04-24

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday. April 23, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine will have Considerable and Moderate avalanche danger today. The Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway will have Considerable avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches will be likely. The Lobsterclaw, Right Gully, and the Lower Snowfields will have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches will be possible. (The Little Headwall is falling apart and is not recommended. See posted video on our website if reading this hardcopy). Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: All areas are starting today a rating lower than the posted danger level. However, this should change as we move through the morning and into the afternoon. Because of last night’s snow, in addition to another couple of inches forecasted today, expect Wind Slabs to exist and more to develop through the day.  Anticipate the most instability in the lee of W and NW winds, such as in the Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl/Headwall and Chute. Slabs and the avalanche problem will grow today if the weather forecast plays out. As this occurs anticipate the avalanche danger to creep into the posted ratings depending on timing of additional snow showers. This is most probable later this afternoon.

WEATHER: Well the heavy snow we hoped for did not occur.  As of 7am the summit received 3.7″ of snow with an additional 1-2″ expected today, ultimately giving us a potential 5-6″ available for wind slab development.  During the onset of snow yesterday a moderate S wind blew for 8 hours before transitioning to a 40-55mph W wind very early this morning.  Over the last 2 hours winds are starting to move towards the expected NW, gusting to 60mph.  Winds may drop off a bit to 45mph today, but will continue to be decent loading speeds for slab growth. Temperatures are beginning at 16F this morning and only rising slightly through the day.

SNOWPACK: A rising temperature yesterday, peaking at 30F on the summit in the early afternoon, allowed for decent ski conditions and a bonding surface for snow that began around 1pm.  The initial S wind should have created some thin slabs on N facing start zones near the ridge. Portions in the upper climber’s left of Hillman’s and Left Gully are some good examples. Overnight, W winds likely began loading our more dominate aspects facing E, such as the Chute, Center Bowl, and Lip.  Current obscure skies and blowing snow make visual confirmation difficult, but historically thin slabs have resulted in similar conditions.  Consistent NW winds and another couple inches of snow will slowly increase avalanche danger through the day.  The ratings are posted with the anticipation of this to become reality.  If we fall short in accumulation expect all areas to struggle reaching their forecasted danger levels. With the potential of 5-6″ available between last night and today, with good W and NW loading wind speeds, a Considerable rating is appropriate.   Based on the nuances of moguls, melted out brush and exposed rocks above treeline new slab development will not be as consistent or large as mid-winter.  Expect a variety of conditions and realize hard old surface down low doesn’t mean you will find the same up high. With the history of wind over the last 24 hours I would expect most new slab to be in the upper elevations of each forecast area.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical springtime hazards have emerged. You should be aware of the potential of falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. The best you can do to mitigate the risk from these objective hazards is to avoid them, especially during times when they are more probable. Falling ice is the hardest to predict and should be given a lot of respect and room. Because of this unpredictability, we generally recommend hazard avoidance as a primary strategy. As an example, Lunch Rocks or “Icefall Rocks” is right in the bulls-eye and has been the scene of many accidents over the years, so avoid this location. Other hazards such as emerging crevasses may be hard to recognize, due to being hidden by new snow.

The Little Headwall has suffered from a collapsed section. We are no longer recommending this as a route out of the Bowl. The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed from the lower switchbacks to the parking lot due to mud.  Please cross over to the Tuck trail at the arrow sign and walk the short distance to your car.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 8:10a.m., Thursday, April 23, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2015-04-23

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday. April 22, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine will have Moderate and Low avalanche danger today. The Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway will have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches will be possible. All other areas have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely except for small avalanches in isolated terrain features. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: All areas are starting today with a stable snowpack and Low avalanche danger. Mixed precipitation and snow this afternoon with a W, SW, and S wind from 25-40 mph will create Wind Slab primarily in upper start zones. Slabs may be dense and heavy due to the possibility of a mixed crystal type until early evening. If a prolonged period of a “New England wintry mix” hits us it will consume the available water, giving us quite a bit less than the max 4″ of snow forecast. Conversely, if we get mostly snow, expect the danger to move into the upper end of the Moderate danger later today. Eventually, around midnight ratings will likely beyond Moderate for most areas.

WEATHER: Precipitation amounts during the past 36 hours were impressively diverse. Close to 2.5” of rain fell near Conway while not much more than 0.1” fell north of the Presidentials. The snowpack, holding plenty of free water, froze hard overnight from the upper half of the ravines to the summits, however at Hermit Lake the mercury only fell to 31F    (-1C). Another wet shield is heading our way with snow beginning this afternoon. Expect snow to become heavy at times, producing up to 2-4″ today with a W wind shifting to the S. Heavy snow tonight will add to another 4-8″, perhaps generating up to a foot (30cm) by tomorrow, being delivered on a W wind approaching 70mph (112kph).

SNOWPACK: As the snowpack drained overnight and began to freeze from the surface down, overall stability increased. At the 3800’ Hermit Lake level the ambient air temperatures fell to 31F (-1C) freezing the surface, but snow temperatures at 10 and 20 cm down from the surface are still a warm 0C (32F). The summit falling to 21F early this morning insinuates a deeper freeze took place at higher elevations. As snow falls this afternoon and into the overnight a number of skier produced nooks, crannies, and moguls will help create some anchoring, such as in the Lip. However with recent warm air and rain most areas have settled and are smooth making a slick bed surface for the afternoon snow event. If precipitation begins as a wet mix, some bonding between layers can be expected.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical springtime hazards have emerged. You should be aware of the potential of falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. The best you can do to mitigate the risk from these objective hazards is to avoid them, especially during times when they are more probable. Falling ice is the hardest to predict and should be given a lot of respect and room. Because of this unpredictability, we generally recommend hazard avoidance as a primary strategy. As an example, Lunch Rocks or “Icefall Rocks” is right in the bulls-eye and has been the scene of many accidents over the years, so avoid this location. Other hazards such as emerging crevasses may be hard to recognize late today and tomorrow, due to being hidden by new snow. The vast majority can be found in the Lip towards the Center Bowl.

The Little Headwall has suffered from a collapsed section. We are no longer recommending this as a route out of the bowl. The Sherburne Ski Trail will have the lower section closed beginning today. You can ski (mostly) to the #3 crossover, then pack up the skis for the 3/4 miles of hiking down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 8:40a.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen /Jeff Lane, Snow Rangers
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2015-04-22

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, April 21, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Considerable and Low avalanche danger. The Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway have Considerable avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely. All other areas have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely except for small avalanches in isolated terrain features. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Rain today will create conditions that can lead to wet slab avalanche releases. In the Lip and Center Bowl, the problem stems primarily from the potential for runoff to overwhelm the waterfall’s existing drainage channels. This has led to very large destructive avalanches in past events like it. Other locations posted at Considerable have received new snow in the past 24 hours, which may have been capped off with freezing rain. As we warm further and transition to rain, there is a potential for this new snow to slide as either a wet slab or a wet loose avalanche. As precipitation changes back to snow later today, the problems created by rain on surface slabs will subside, but percolating water coursing down through the snowpack and into the headwall may still keep alive the chance for a waterfall blowout.

WEATHER: Put simply, today will be a nasty day in the mountains. Seriously, if you are reading this before leaving from Pinkham, I encourage you to think about how much you enjoy being soaked to the bone with temperatures in the 30’s F. Unless this is just your cup of tea, you might want to find an alternative to hiking to the bowl today. We’ve had a lot of precipitation fall on the mountain in the last 24 hours. Precipitation began as snow across much of the higher terrain, leaving a little more than 3” of snow at the summit before changing over to freezing rain. I don’t yet have a rain total for Hermit Lake, but at home in Conway I received 1.85” of rainfall by 5am. The potential exists for another 0.25” to 0.5” of rain to fall on the mountain today, possibly heavy at times this morning. As is always the case in the mountains, weather can come faster and heavier than the broader synoptic scale forecasts may indicate. It looks like more snow at the upper elevations in the coming days, so pay attention if your plans involve a trip to the mountains this week.

SNOWPACK: Today’s Considerable rating might be on the conservative side for areas such as Hillman’s. 3” of dense snow may not be much, but I do suspect some loading took place while winds were strong from the SSE and temperatures were below freezing. Rain on this new snow layer may simply be absorbed, or it may produce smaller wet loose avalanches. In the worst case scenario, an upside down slab may have developed that could release. Over in the Lip and Center Bowl, the concerns are much more serious. The hazard potential there is virtually unpredictable. There are no reliable tests or other ways to detect whether or not the waterfall will blow out a deep slab. Traveling into the bowl, even just into the flats near the bottom, puts you in the line of fire from this type of avalanche.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical springtime hazards have emerged and it will be challenging to protect yourself from them today. You should be aware of the potential for falling ice, crevasses, and undermined snow. These objective hazards exist and to a large extent are beyond your control. My advice for today is to avoid the potential hazard entirely.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 6:35a.m., Tuesday, April 21, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2015-04-21

 

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, April 20,2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Temperatures will hover around the freezing mark in our Ravines today with wet snow and rain creating the potential for wet loose avalanches. Keep a close eye on the type and rate of precipitation since it will determine if more significant avalanche problems will develop. It is conceivable that the 3-6” (7.5-15cm) of snow and sleet forecast for the summit will create wet slab issues as rain begins to fall on the new snow. This could push our rating into a Moderate danger rating with human triggered avalanches becoming more likely in the steepest terrain.

OTHER HAZARDS: The usual spring hazards are in full bloom this week.  Large flows of ice have numerous areas where horizontal cracks are forming and the Sluice ice, above Lunch Rocks, is already missing some chunks. Rain will undoubtedly spawn more falling ice as it weakens the ice-to-cliff bond and melts channels through ice columns. Reduced visibility due to summit fog, flat light and snow will challenge navigation as well as your ability to identify and manage objective hazards. Additionally, the snowpack is slowly gliding downhill as a unified mass and is pulling away from cliffs, creating crevasses and moats. These may change quickly, and though many filled in with sluff debris yesterday, they will now doubt grow larger with this week’s weather. Undermined snow is creating challenges for exiting the Bowl and will become more undermined and more dangerous with increased meltwater and runoff. While the Little Headwall is still skiable, there is open water both above and below, with large moguls throughout. The safer exit from the Bowl is to carry your skis down the hiking trail to HoJo’s where you can easily pick up the Sherburne Ski Trail. As of yesterday, it was just possible to make it to the parking lot, though the riding involved threading the needle through bare patches while raking your bases over exposed rocks. It may be best to cross back over to the Tuckerman Ravine trail as the snow disappears. Please respect our advice when we string the rope across the ski trail…foot traffic damages the trail and leads to erosion.

WEATHER and SNOWPACK: After perfect spring conditions yesterday, the weather is taking a turn for the worse. Precipitation will start around lunch time with wet snow before changing to sleet, freezing rain and then rain tonight. High winds and fog will challenge visibility and make for unpleasant above tree-line travel, but I don’t expect this wet snow to be moved along the ground and drift into the wind slabs that you would see in colder, drier winter conditions. A slushy surface is the most likely conditions you will find today with firm and less edge-able snow beneath in some areas. Unsettled weather is on tap all week with proverbial April rain and snow showers expected most days.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 7:45 a.m., Monday, April 20, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2713

2015-04-20 print friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, April 19, 2015

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. Unstable snow may exist on isolated terrain features.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We have stopped issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own stability assessments when traveling through avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice and rock exists.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Yesterday’s expected snow did come, but did not result in a widespread loading event. Instead, the ravine is covered in a veneer of heavily rimed crystals, with the possibility for some areas to have collected deposits a few inches deep. This leaves loose avalanches as the avalanche threat today, although it will not be a very threatening problem. Generally, the snowpack will be very stable; the other mountain hazards will be a greater threat than avalanches.

FALLING ICE will be a concern today. Lunch Rocks and under the ice in the Center Bowl are the locations most at risk. Your best bet is to not spend time unnecessarily in these locations. E.g., don’t send your kids up into the Center Bowl with their sleds—this is a bad idea that seems to be gaining in popularity. Falling ice is a very real threat that has injured numerous people through the years. Probably not a single one of them actually thought it could have happened to them.

UNDERMINED SNOW is also a problem. You’ll find this in any location where a stream flows under the snowpack. Prominent examples are found in the Little Headwall and the streambed above it, as well as in Hillman’s Highway and Right Gully.

CREVASSES are beginning to open up, as is the waterfall hole in the Lip. Currently the largest crevasses are in the Lip, right near where the bootpack goes up along the skiers’ left side. If you head up this way, remember that the crack you see in the surface can be much larger and longer underneath the surface. Assess your intended route for this hazard and give these openings a wide berth.

WEATHER: Yesterday we received about an inch of heavy wet rimed snow crystals. This fell along with an impressively close display of thunder and lightning. I’m sure anyone above treeline when this came in must have felt a little uneasy about the exposure. Today, clearing skies, warming temperatures, and diminishing wind speeds will make a pleasant day in the mountains. Remember, you are going into the mountains, so be responsible for yourself and your group with enough clothing and equipment to keep yourselves warm and dry.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is still open to the parking lot. There are numerous bare patches along the way. Be ready for immense moguls and challenging skiing, especially if you’re unaccustomed to skiing with a large pack and your legs are tired from a long day.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 7:45 a.m., Sunday, April 19, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2713

2015-04-19

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, April 18, 2015

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

This morning, all forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  This afternoon, Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl and Chute will have MODERATE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches will be unlikely but human triggered avalanches will be possible. Evaluate snow, weather and terrain carefully.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We have stopped issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own stability assessments when traveling through avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice will begin to increase, along with other spring hazards, with the seasonal warm-up.  These hazards will persist until melt-out as we transition into early summer.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wind Slabs will build this afternoon as wind carries and deposits 2-4” (5-10cm) of new snow in our start zones. The exact size and touchiness of these slabs will depend on the density of the snow and timing of the wind increase. Generally speaking, the new snow will be “upside down” with denser, wind packed snow over lighter density and therefore weaker snow. The wind slab problem will increase into the evening as snow showers drop another trace to 2”. Until that time when these wind slabs build, minor and manageable Wet Loose avalanche activity is possible as morning sun heats our south and southeast facing slopes.  Steep slopes that have seen a lot of ski traffic generally have less of this type of problem. Areas without recent ski traffic have the greatest potential for larger sluffs.

WEATHER: Bluebird skies, calm winds and temperatures hovering near the freezing mark this morning will give way to building clouds, mixed precipitation and snow this afternoon. Currently, light westerly summit winds in the 20-35 mph range are blowing but will increase to the 50-70 mph range this afternoon. Hour by hour forecast models indicate that the mixed precipitation will begin in the early afternoon hours and quickly change to snow as temperatures drop. This frontal activity will raise clouds capable of producing intense shower activity, which will play out as thunder storms at lower elevations, so the exact amount of snow is hard to pin down. Two to four inches (5-10cm) of snowfall during daylight hours is predicted which, when coupled with building winds, is driving our increased avalanche danger rating. Navigation will become increasingly challenging as visibility diminishes with fog and blowing snow.

OTHER HAZARDS: The snowpack is slowly moving downhill as a unified mass and is pulling away from cliffs, creating crevasses. New snow may obscure these slots with easily breakable snow bridges. Be aware of what is above you today, especially as the sun continues to bake south faces this morning.  Realize that hanging out at Lunch Rocks puts you directly in the runout of large pieces of falling ice. Also, undermined snow is creating challenges for exiting the Bowl. While the Little Headwall is still skiable, there is open water both above and below. The best exit from the Bowl may involve walking to Connection Cache and possibly farther. Numerous areas of large ice have horizontal cracks forming and the Sluice ice, above Lunch Rocks, is already missing some chunks.

SNOWPACK: Nighttime temperatures allowed refreezing last night. Expect a mix of harder surfaces where crampons would be helpful if not necessary, as well as a breakable crust that gives way to deeper slushier corn snow. As temperatures drop this afternoon, shadier aspects which did not benefit from the softening power of the morning sun will become even harder. The potential for long sliding falls and very difficult self-arresting conditions should be on your mind today.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 8:00 a.m., Saturday, April 18, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2713

2015-04-18

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, April 17, 2015

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

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

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wet loose avalanches continue as an unlikely threat today as temperatures hover just above freezing. Steep slopes that have seen a lot of ski traffic generally have less of this type of problem. Areas without recent ski traffic have the greatest potential for a larger sluff. The hazard of these heavy, wet piles of snow moving downhill comes from their ability to bulldoze you into bushes, rocks or over cliffs or to push your boards in expected directions.

OTHER HAZARDS: The typical spring hazards are showing themselves.  Numerous areas of large ice have horizontal cracks forming and the Sluice ice, above Lunch Rocks, is already missing some chunks. Be aware of what is above you on a warm day and realize that eating lunch at Lunch Rocks puts you directly in the runout of large pieces of falling ice. Today’s warm temperatures and rain showers will increase the likelihood of this annual hazard. During this period of falling ice every year we do not recommend sitting at Lunch Rocks even though it may have a long tradition for you. The vast majority of icefall injuries over the past 50 years have occurred at Lunch Rocks also dubbed, “Icefall Rocks”. Reduced visibility due to summit fog will challenge navigation as well as your ability to identify and manage other objective hazards. The snowpack is slowly moving downhill as a unified mass and is pulling away from cliffs, creating crevasses. These may change quickly, so anticipate them growing in size. Undermined snow is creating challenges for exiting the Bowl. While the Little Headwall is still skiable, there is open water both above and below. The best exit from the Bowl may involve walking to Connection Cache and possibly farther.

WEATHER: The weaker of two cold fronts arrived this morning, bringing light rain and mixed precipitation showers depending on elevation, along with moderate to strong summit winds and fog. The amount of rain and precipitation associated with this front is minimal, and won’t change our snowpack much. Tonight, temperatures will drop as the next cold front arrives, bringing 2-4” of snow on Saturday. Northwest winds with the potential for 2-6” (5-15 cm) total of snow by the end of the storm Saturday afternoon will change things quite a bit. After the warm spell of sunny corn skiing, followed by rain, we will return to wintry conditions Saturday and Sunday with an icy snowpack beneath fresh wind slab.

 SNOWPACK: The near freezing conditions over the past couple of day helped to firm up and preserve our snow at ravine elevations after last Friday’s rain and thaw. In Tuckerman Ravine, plenty of ski traffic Wednesday and Thursday tested and compacted our slopes and helped to ease our minds about wet slab avalanches. Being a generally cautious person, I wouldn’t leave my beacon, probe and shovel behind for lots of reasons.  Most of these are unlikely, but consider a large icefall or a subsurface meltwater blowout as an unusual, but not impossible, potential trigger. These are just of couple of reasons why we will continue to wearing our avalanche PPE through late spring.  As our snowpack melts, thin spots develop and firm or icy surfaces are exposed so be aware that an ice axe or self-arrest ski pole and crampons may be worthwhile weapons in your quiver.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 7:45 a.m. Friday, April 17, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2713

2015-04-17 print friendly