Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Considerable avalanche danger. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The only exceptions to the Considerable rating are the Lower Snowfields and the Little Headwall, which have Moderate avalanche danger. In these areas, natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.
Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2013 continues the trend we’ve been seeing here over the last couple weeks, which is one of plentiful snow. Today is another good day, and it’s one that reinforces one of the fundamental concepts avalanche educators try to convey. I was first taught to always be observant and continually reassess conditions, to never become anchored to any one piece of information or decision. Today I left home thinking one thing, which changed to something different as I drove into Pinkham Notch where about 1″ of snow was being blown about. As Joe and I split up at the Fire Rd. junction, there was about 3″ of fresh light snow on the ground. This changed my mind once again about what I think is taking place in the ravines. I now feel that some locations are pushing into the upper reaches of the Considerable rating. Once again visibility is near zero, so getting good visual observations just isn’t going to happen this morning.
For you dataheads, our Harvard Cabin snowplot had 8cm of 8% density snow. The summit did all they could to collect 1.4″ in the last 6 hours, but it’s blowing so strongly up there that collecting and measuring snow is bound to have its challenges. From what we’re seeing here, it’s a safe bet that 2-3″ have fallen across the mountain. Strong NW winds today will continue to load fresh windslabs into the ravines, creating dangerous avalanche conditions in both ravines. Expect loading to continue throughout today, so the potential for natural avalanche activity should be on your mind. Remember that you don’t need to be on a steep slope to be at risk. Slide paths are developing rapidly lately. With the mountain shrouded in thick fog, you may not even know if you are in avalanche terrain or not, so play it conservatively.
Weather will also be a factor for those looking to get a Mt. Washington winter experience. Arctic temperatures, very low visibility, high winds, blowing snow, and freezing fog will all be working against you as you try to ring in the New Year in style. Or, if you’re home trying to remember what happened last night, just be thankful you’re not up here pulling icicles out of your nose hairs.
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 caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
Posted 8:00 a.m. January 1, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.
Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856