Weekend Update: February 25, 2011

New snow fell across Mt. Washington today, blanketing the crusty old surfaces with just about 6” of 12% density fluff as of 4:15pm. Currently there isn’t much wind at the Summit, in fact they’re just about 30mph from the NNE. This is going to change this evening and later tonight. By daybreak winds will be howling from the NW with gusts up over 100mph not out of the question. There is also the chance for a couple more inches to fall between now and tomorrow morning. The result of all this? Lots of wind loading in the very near future.

For Saturday, you can expect bluebird skies above but don’t think that means you’ll be able to see anything above treeline. You might, but the winds will have ample new snow to work with, so even though wind speeds will decline somewhat from daybreak to mid-afternoon, loading may take place for the better part of the day. I’m picturing a scene that will be more like sandblasting your exposed skin with fragmented snow grains. For avalanche terrain, this significant wind transported snow means elevated danger in many areas. My experience tells me that an event like this can easily create naturally triggered avalanches, even though the sky above is clear blue. Some exposed locations may get the new snow scoured out of them, but until you can confirm this to be the case I think expecting windslab is the way to go.

Late Saturday clouds will increase as the high pressure slides along and is replaced by a weak weather system. A few inches for southern NH is the current forecast for Sunday, but we may only see a small amount in the north country. The best part about Sunday’s weather is that the winds will finally begin to subside to reasonable speeds.

Which is the better day? It depends on what you like, I guess. Saturday will be more clear skies but the winds will make it challenging to stay comfortable. Blowing snow will keep avalanche danger elevated in a lot of our terrain. Sunday winds will calm down somewhat, but you’ll also have clouds and possibly some snow falling from the sky. At this time it’s hard to predict what the avalanche danger will be on Sunday. There are too many variables that need to play out. Keep reading the avalanche advisories to get the most current information, or seek us out on the mountain.

This may be the “Weekend Update,” but I thought I’d also throw in some thoughts about beyond the weekend. It looks right now like we may be into a short but active period of weather over the next several days. Some more new snow is possible on Sunday, then unfortunately mixed precip on Monday, and maybe some more snow on Tuesday. You never really know what you’ve got until it’s on the ground, but it could be pretty good if it stays cold enough.

I hope you have a great weekend!


Forest Service Snowmobile with new snow

It's nice when you have to brush the snow off the windshield before heading down at the end of the day.