Avalanche Forecast for Friday, January 11, 2019

This forecast was published 01/11/2019 at 7:14 AM.
A new forecast will be issued tomorrow.


This is an archived avalanche forecast and expired on 01/11/2019 at midnight.

The Bottom Line

Continued wind loading raises the threat of large natural avalanches in specific east facing areas of the range today. Avalanche danger is teetering between ratings with the potential large size of natural avalanches pushing the rating to CONSIDERABLE in a few areas with the largest wind slabs. Human triggered avalanches remain possible in MODERATE rated areas due to the potential for reactive but smaller wind slabs. Remember that active wind loading can be the heavy trigger needed for a large slab to fail but the weight of a passing skier or climber may also be enough. Cautious route finding will be required to evaluate snow and terrain today.

2019-01-11 Printable

Forecast Area

Avalanche Safety Information Study

Please contribute to the effort to improve backcountry avalanche forecasts! Researchers in Canada devised a study to better understand how we communicate the avalanche risk, and we need your help. Please fill out this survey. It will take a few minutes, but it will help us as we work on new ways to give you the most important avalanche information.

Mountain Weather

In the past 24 hours, 7.5” of new snow brought our three day total to 21” at higher elevations. Yesterday’s new snow was accompanied by strong winds averaging around 70 mph from the NW. New snow shut off shortly after dark last night but wind slowly increased through the night and is currently blowing in the 80-90 mph range. Wind seems likely to increase further with gusts over 100 mph. Skies may clear but count on blowing snow and passing fog and clouds to create challenging conditions for gathering visual observations. The current summit temperature is -9F and won’t warm much before falling further overnight.

Primary Avalanche Problem – Wind Slab

Wind Slab




The strongest wind since Wednesday evening will add more snow load to existing wind slabs today. Confidence is high that these wind slabs will be firm and stubborn in most areas but continued snow loading keeps the threat of large natural avalanches real, particularly in specific areas like the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine. Other east facing terrain with sufficient fetch downwind could also harbor these large but stubborn wind slabs.

What is a Windslab Avalanche?

  Wind Slab avalanches are the release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion

Three days of snow, wind loading and zero visibility have left us with little direct observation of our avalanche paths. A history of observations of our primary forecast terrain leads us to our current forecast. The strong wind on tap will scour and wind pack some zones while further loading sheltered areas. Continued sluffing will also build wind slabs beneath steep features like the approach to Pinnacle, the big ice slab in Odell and below chokepoints in the Chute. Both loading conditions will occur in the Headwall area of Tuckerman Ravine.

Additional Concerns

The Sherburne and Gulf of Slides ski trails are snow covered to Pinkham Notch.

Snow Plot Information

Density (%)HSTTotalAir TT MaxT MinSkyPrecipComments
0 CM 1.7 MM0CM146 CM4.5 C7.0 C2.0 COvercastNo precipitation
0 CM 10.4 MM0CM152 CM3.0 C12.0 C1.0 COvercastRain
0 CM 0.0 MM0CM156 CM1.0 C10.0 C1.0 CFewNo precipitation
0 CM 28.0 MM0CM160 CM6.5 C11.0 C6.5 CBrokenNo precipitation
0 CM 16.5 MM0CM175 CM9.5 C12.0 C6.5 COvercastRain

Avalanche Log and Summit Weather

Daily Observations

Thank you Mount Washington Observatory for providing daily weather data from the summit of Mount Washington.

DateMax TempMin TempTotal (SWE)24H Snow & IceWind AvgWind Fastest MileFastest Mile DirAvalanche Activity
04/23/1946 F33 F .18 in 0.0 in25.8 MPH60 MPH

240 (WSW)

04/22/1942 F33 F .15 in 0.0 in18.1 MPH54 MPH

50 (NE)

04/21/1945 F36 F 0.21 in 0 in23.8 MPH66 MPH

170 (S)

04/20/1949 F43 F 1.11 in 0 in42.6 MPH96 MPH

240 (WSW)

04/19/1947 F41 F 0.23 in 0 in46 MPH95 MPH

240 (WSW)

04/18/1942 F18 F .23 in .2 in39.4 MPH98 MPH

240 (WSW)

04/17/1925 F15 F 0 in 0 in28.8 MPH82 MPH

330 (NNW)

04/16/1916 F12 F .28 in 1.5 in82.2 MPH142 MPH

290 (WNW)

04/15/1945 F12 F .97 in 1.6 in55.6 MPH133 MPH

290 (WNW)

04/14/1945 F24 F 0.22 in 0 in53 MPH85 MPH

290 (WNW)

04/13/1941 F28 F 0.09 in 0 in55.8 MPH86 MPH

280 (W)

04/12/1941 F20 F 0.15 in 0.0 in47 MPH106 MPH

240 (WSW)

Please Remember:

Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This forecast 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.

Avalanche danger may change when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

For more information contact the US Forest Service Snow Rangers, AMC visitor services staff at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or seasonally at the Harvard Cabin (generally December 1 through March 31). The Mount Washington Ski Patrol is also available on spring weekends.

Posted 01/11/2019 at 7:14 AM.

Frank Carus
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest