Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 4-3-2013

Expires at midnight, 4-03-2013

Tuckerman Ravine has HIGH and CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today. The Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl have High avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are likely and human triggered avalanches are very likely. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. All other areas have Considerable avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  The Little Headwall is the only exception to these ratings, as it has Low avalanche danger.

Huntington Ravine has CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. Conservative decision making is essential today.

WOW-WOW-WOW! Winter has returned again.  If you were dropped on Mount Washington having no idea it was spring you’d swear it was January due to a summit low temp of -3F (-19.5C).  In the 24 hours proceeding midnight the summit received 4.4” (11cm) making 9.3” (24cm) for the past 2 days.  This is similar to Hermit Lake and the Harvard Cabin accumulations.  This was associated with a building wind yesterday that began in the morning around 50 mph (80kph) from the WNW.  Velocities grew all day to around 90mph (144kph) at dusk hitting a peak of 127mph (204kph) very early this morning.  All summing up to full winter conditions!

Joe and I made our way into Huntington Ravine busting through thick drifts, blowing snow, and limited visibility.  A lot of snow continues to move around on strong winds that have been slowly abating, currently blowing at around 90mph (144kph).  Winds are expected to fall through day light hours perhaps as low as 60mph (96kph) by late. In addition to another 1-3” (2.5-7.5cm) of new snow, these high winds will continue to load slopes, continuing our elevated avalanche danger problems.  Although I feel we have passed peak instability in a number of locations some questions still arise.  What avalanched? What avalanched and then reloaded with new snow?  And, what did not avalanche yet?  One of my greatest concerns surrounds this last potential making me wonder what is still loading and waiting to be pushed over the brink, resulting in a large avalanche(s).  Earlier this month we had a storm cycle that produced a number of avalanches, but our biggest avalanche occurred in the Sluice, late in the storm.  This same scenario could be playing out currently which has us keeping some High ratings in the mix today.  In addition to this larger issue happening up high, I would also be weary down low in the approaches to the main gullies due to high overnight winds that have brought snow in some protected locations below the main gullies and snowfields.

Based on the overall snow coverage before this weather maker, expect avalanches to have the potential to run to the maximum length.  Our previous two storms produced some large avalanches that fully extended avalanche paths.  Expect the potential for Dodge’s Drop to run into Hillman’s near the dog-leg and the Highway to perhaps turn this dog-leg corner.  I would not go beyond the Connection First Aid Cache, that’s the one just before the floor of Tuckerman, or much beyond the Dow Cache in Huntington, unless you are willing to accept a much higher degree of risk.  As for me, I have no intention of doing so until the avalanche danger level falls.  The Sherburne will likely have variable conditions due to high wind speeds, but the upper 2/3’s is a good option compared to going into avalanche terrain, which in a number of areas is not recommended.  As we move into tonight more snow is anticipated before some clearing occurs likely producing partly sunny skies tomorrow.  We may have new stability issues tomorrow, perhaps some solar gain induced problems depending on temperatures and wind speeds.

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 8:23a.m. 4-03-2013.  A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2013-04-03 Print Version