Snowpack Obs

By Helon Hoffer | MWAC

Date of Observation: February 15, 2020  10:00 AM
Location of Observation: Tuckerman and Oakes

+ Our overall impression of the snowpack today was it has grown significantly in the past week.
+ The rain crust that formed Feb 6/7 is intact almost everywhere, with wind effected snow on top. The new snow seems bonded to this crust. An upside down structure exists, but the density change between the slab and weak layer is only one step.
+ NE aspects we encountered were largely scoured and looked so from afar.
+ S aspects we encountered contained pockets of reactive wind slab, 4-6″ thick, but very small in size and located only near terrain features. More open S aspects were much firmer and lacked the reactivity.
+ Lots of slopes got tested today.

Tuckerman from top of Lobster Claw
Right side of Tuckerman showing differences in wind effect in Right Gully and Lobster Claw
Oakes Gulf from Davis Path. Slide paths are well developed.


Snowpack observations are one part of the complex puzzle which is your decision to enter avalanche terrain. Some observations may include stability tests. It’s important to understand that the results of a stability tests are seldom conclusive anywhere, but particularly in snow climates and terrain like ours where the primary driver of instabilities is wind drifted snow. Many stability tests exist and each works best with specific avalanche problem types. Stability test results should never be used alone as an indication that a slope or conditions are safe particularly when more obvious red flags are present. Please use this page as part of your information gathering process, but don’t make decisions based on a single piece of information. A good article that summarizes some of the issues associated with snow and avalanche observations can be found here.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center cannot verify the quality or accuracy of any observations that come from the general public.


See an avalanche or evidence of previous avalanche activity?  Near-miss? Snowpack observations?

Your observations are valuable to an accurate forecast! We welcome observations from everyone. You don’t need to be an avalanche professional to submit helpful observations, just be as detailed and accurate as you can.