Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Expires tonight at 12:00 midnight

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Lip has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern. All other forecast areas in Tuckerman Ravine have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for isolated pockets in strong lee areas.

Huntington Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Watch for isolated pockets of concern in strong lee areas of rock, brush and ice.

What a beautiful morning. Mild temperatures, no wind at the base of the Ravines and a pink alpineglow to bring out crisp definition of the terrain all make it a great day to be alive! High winds of late have done their wind scouring and packing work to give the Ravines some decent stability. For the most part we have had widespread wind packing and erosion of our terrain.

To bring where we are now into perspective I figured a quick discussion of our statistics might be in order. Over the past 24 days we have had 18 days of snow on the summit and so far for the month of January 6 of 8 days have given us at least a minor shot of snow. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? When you look at the recent daily totals it’s a little less glamorous with only an inch or two at a time giving us the ole’ nickel and diming effect. However, this isn’t so bad because when we get a little bit at a time natural avalanches are less frequent, keeping snow on the slopes filling in the terrain. What we do get is some more consistent human trigger potential i.e. not enough instability to cause frequent natural activity but enough to potentially react to a human impact. During these kind of conditions an attentive climber or skier with their avalanche senses tuned in can find a reasonable line to follow. Saying this, don’t fall asleep at the wheel as pockets here and there can ruin a nice day. Moving on to wind stats the data shows since Jan 1st we have had several days of very high winds and if you average the high gust over the past 8 days it averages 90mph (145kph). This fact has given us the scoured conditions of today.

One area we have left at Moderate is the runout under the Lip, which harbors some pockets of newer snow, is adjacent to our most recent natural avalanche in the center bowl and will be the most likely area to become loaded by new snow later today. Other locations do have some isolated pockets to watch. Some of these include above the narrows in the Chute, protected areas in the climbers right of the lower Sluice, in Right Gully and in the Lobster Claw.

New snow is expected later today which shouldn’t impact today’s advisory but keep an eye on conditions if accumulation rates come in quicker than expected. Snow overnight may give us a couple of inches by dawn. The bigger news today is a rapidly accelerating wind velocity from 30mph (48kph) or so this morning to 100mph (160kph) after dark. Overnight sustained 100+ (160+kph) wind speeds are expected.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
  • Posted 8:43a.m. Wednesday January 9, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.
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Chris Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service