Huntington and Tuckerman Ravine have LOW avalanche danger today. All forecast areas have Low avalanche danger. Generally safe avalanche conditions exist.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Due to the melt-freeze cycle the mountain experienced over the past 48 hours, avalanche concerns have subsided for the day. A big drop in temperature following ¾” of rain has locked the surface of the snowpack and left avalanche terrain with a smooth, icy surface. Long, sliding falls will be the main concern today for skiers and climbers and will necessitate the skillful use of crampons and ice axes. In addition to this, other spring hazards are starting to appear, though weather today should prevent further development of undermined snow and keep most rock and ice in place rather than cascading down.  Climbers should be wary of ice dams as the cold snap will have trapped running water under a coating of ice that is waiting for pressure release in the form of a tool or screw placement. The Little Headwall is now open water and not recommended as an exit for those looking to ski out of Tuckerman Ravine.

WEATHER: On Thursday morning, the summit of Mount Washington recorded above freezing temperatures that stayed above 32F for 30 hours. During this time period, the summit also recorded 0.75” of rain. At noon on Friday, temperatures began a downward trend that bottomed out at a current 3F on the summit and 14F at Hermit Lake. As today progresses, a ridge of high pressure over the region will keep skies clear until late in the day when upper level moisture will bring clouds in the evening. Temperature will be colder than it looks today with highs on the summit maybe reaching 20F by early afternoon. Wind is currently out of the NW at 65mph and will shift to the SW as high pressure moves out of the region late in the day. Wind speeds should drop to the 30-45mph midday and then increase again when the wind shifts to the SW.

SNOWPACK: As expected, our snowpack took a hit from yesterday’s rain. There is significantly less snow in the tops of gullies than earlier in the week. That being said, due to the porosity of the snow that arrived in early March, the snowpack was able to accept the rain well and we saw no drastic changes beyond the Little Headwall opening up. Today certainly has the appearance of spring, though those stepping out of their cars in the Pinkham parking lot at 7am might beg to differ. During our morning forecasters meeting, we discussed whether we thought the snow would soften today. Despite a combined give or take 45 years of experience, we struggled to say yes or no. If you are looking for spring skiing today, it might happen given the clear skies. That being said, cold temperatures and forecast wind speeds may prevent even south-facing slopes like Right Gully and Lobster Claw from softening. Wise skiers will carry crampons and an ice axe today and be prepared to down climb or wait and pray for the snow to soften.

The Sherburne still has full snow coverage from top to bottom, though ice is starting to appear in the usual places.

Tonight is the last night of operation for the Harvard Cabin, Starting tomorrow, the only place to camp in the Cutler River Drainage will be at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted  8:00 a.m., Saturday, March 31, 2018. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Helon Hoffer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2858

2018-03-31

Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines have MODERATE avalanche danger. All forecast areas have Moderate avalanche danger. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Rain on cold, dry layers of snow raises our avalanche danger today. Warm temperatures and rain overnight will continue into the early afternoon hours today, adding strain to the weak layers that exist in the snowpack. There is a good chance that no natural avalanches will occur today, but any avalanche, natural or human-triggered, could be large and destructive. If, for some reason, you venture out into avalanche terrain in the cold rain today, keep this low probability but high consequence avalanche problem in mind. Temperatures will fall to the freezing level this afternoon and continue to drop through the night bringing improved stability to the snowpack. It will also create a hard, icy surface layer that sunshine and cool temperatures tomorrow may have a hard time breaking down.

Spring hazards are becoming prominent and should be considered in your terrain decisions. Long sliding falls on the hard, icy snow will be possible. Given the rain and refreeze, don’t count on the firm Styrofoam snow to be around tomorrow. Ice climbers should be aware of potential for ice dams in many climbs which can rupture with the placement of a tool, crampon, or screw. Above freezing temperatures will result in water flowing beneath ice which will become brittle in places when temperatures drop tonight. Undermined snow in stream beds will make exiting the Bowl challenging.

WEATHER: About a 0.4” (9.7mm) of rain fell overnight at Hermit Lake with more on the way today. The temperature is currently 39F on the summit and will slowly fall through the day, ultimately bottoming out at 8F on the summit at sunup tomorrow. West wind today will diminish a bit to 40-45 mph this afternoon but slowly ramp up and blow 65-70 mph tomorrow morning. Summit wind will diminish a bit tomorrow afternoon to 55-60 mph. Sunny skies are on tap and will likely seem appealing for a spring ski day but be prepared for borderline snow conditions which may struggle to soften even on sunny aspects.

SNOWPACK: Field time on the summit yesterday was a reminder of how important the direct sun and above freezing temperatures are to soften the snow surface. The more east facing snowfields were rock hard at 12 noon, despite sunlight filtered only by very thin, high clouds and temperatures at 34F. Wind from the west near 40 mph and indirect sunshine were enough to keep the snow from softening. Lower down the mountain, conditions improved on slopes facing directly into the sun but temperatures were quite warm there early on. Solar gain will be critical tomorrow. If you are choosing to come up on Saturday, remind yourself that the pressure that comes from a crowd of people is hard to withstand. Long-sliding falls often result in no injury whatsoever but have, on many occasions, resulted in life altering injuries and death. Look for sun softened snow, not the boot ladder with the most people.

Check our Instagram page, linked on our website, for conditions photos and additional updates. You don’t need an account to view our posts!

The Harvard Cabin will be open tonight and Saturday night and then close for the season.

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 Harvard Cabin.
• Posted  8:00 a.m., Friday, March 30, 2018. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Frank Carus, Lead Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2858

2018-03-30