Latest avalanche advisory for Mount Washington’s Cutler River Drainage – Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, April 22, 2018

Huntington Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. Yale, Central, Pinnacle, Odell, South and Escape Hatch have Moderate avalanche danger. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern. North and Damnation have Low avalanche danger. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

 Tuckerman Ravine has CONSIDERABLE and MODERATE avalanche danger. Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, and Chute have Considerable avalanche danger. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding, and conservative decision making are essential. Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Left Gully, Hillman’s Highway, and the Lower Snowfields have Moderate avalanche danger.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern. The Little Headwall is the exception with Low avalanche danger and areas of open water.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Wind slabs that formed since Friday are our primary avalanche problem. Of most concern today will be sun exposed areas holding largest slabs, like Sluice and Lip, where warming will push likelihood for human triggered avalanches toward likely and keep natural avalanches possible. Right Gully and Lobster Claw in Tuckerman and Yale Gully in Huntington should see similar affects though less capable of producing a truly large avalanche. We expect the somewhat firm wind slabs present in most of the terrain to be stubborn to a human trigger but capable of producing medium to large sized avalanches. This sets up a relatively low probability, high consequence day in which it’s plausible for the 5th or 10th skier, snowboarder, or climber rather than the 1st on a particular slope to trigger a large avalanche. Likelihood of triggering an avalanche will be slightly lower today than yesterday, but potential size of avalanches has not decreased, continuing to make the floor of Tuckerman Ravine an inappropriate place to linger.

 WEATHER: Temperatures below 20F on the summit and just above freezing at Hermit Lake yesterday paired with clearing skies and summit wind around 50 mph from the NW for a semi-pleasant day. Today is forecast to be approximately 10 degrees warmer with continued NW wind that should hold between 30 and 45 mph on the summit. Warmer temperatures and clear, sunny skies will make it feel spring like today and more so tomorrow, though the snowpack remains dynamic and more winter-like.

 SNOWPACK: Moisture from mixed precipitation earlier this week refroze and created a hard crust as a bed surface for the wind slabs which have formed since Friday. A few areas of this refrozen crust exist at the surface, but most of our terrain has been smoothed over by wind deposited snow. This means that the wind slab varies greatly in thickness from several inches to several feet, but it looks very similar from the surface. Layers do exist within this new wind slab, with a stiffer layer on the surface remaining reactive, but we would expect avalanches today to ultimately entrain all snow above the refrozen crust. Bonding in this upper snowpack has improved but not to the point of calling anything stable. Further, we expect stability to decrease with warming today, particularly on sunny aspects. A breakable sun crust from yesterday exists on some but not all southerly slopes, with inconsistent cloud cover suspected to be the culprit in variability of this crust. While sun today should soften this crust and affect stability, don’t expect an instant transition to corn snow from this wintry snowpack. Respect avalanche danger today by choosing terrain appropriate to your preparedness. Though avalanches may be less likely than yesterday, they could still be large. Bring your beacon, shovel, and probe along with an ability to use them as you carefully choose terrain. The Sherburne should ski well today and serve as an excellent consolation prize if today is not your day to travel in avalanche terrain.

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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.
• Posted  7:40 a.m., Sunday, April 22, 2018. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2018-04-22

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, April 21, 2018

Huntington Ravine has CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Yale, Central, Pinnacle, Odell, South, and Escape Hatch have Considerable avalanche danger. Dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding, and conservative decision making are essential. North and Damnation have Moderate avalanche danger. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.

Tuckerman Ravine has HIGH and CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Lip and Center Bowl have High avalanche danger. Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. All other forecast areas have Considerable avalanche danger. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding, and conservative decision making are essential. The only exception to this is the Little Headwall which has Moderate avalanche danger. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: Recent new snow and steady NW wind is elevating the avalanche danger ratings today. Wind slab is likely to be easily triggered and is not bonded well to the soft new snow or the underlying ice crust. With over 16” of recorded snow on the summit since noon on Thursday, avalanches today could be large. Recent avalanche debris in Hillman’s and Dodge’s has been observed so far through the fog and blowing snow. These recent avalanches plus continued wind loading of slopes are obvious red flags for folks considering playing in or below steep terrain today. Well-developed avalanche paths exist, meaning an avalanche today could also run far onto flat ground. Entering the floor of Tuckerman Ravine today is not recommended as this will require crossing numerous avalanche paths that have the potential to avalanche naturally. With most of avalanche terrain offering a high-risk, high-consequence scenario, lower-angled terrain like the Sherburne will be the safe choice today.

WEATHER: Snow began to fall around noon on Thursday, April 19, and has been steadily accumulating, leaving 16.4” at the summit and 8.25” at Hermit Lake. Thursday evening, wind speeds increased to 40-60mph from the NW and have remained at that speed with occasional gusts into the 70mph range. The low pressure system sitting over the Northeast has begun to drift offshore and will allow clearing to take place later today. Before then, low level moisture will likely keep the summits in the fog with upslope snow showers for the morning. Temperatures today will climb to the upper teens F and winds will remain from the NW at 45-60mph.

SNOWPACK: The bed surface for avalanche activity today will be the ice crust that formed earlier this week. Below this ice crust, snow is still moist due to the insulating layer of snow above. Above this ice crust, widespread soft wind slab exists. This wind slab has several changes in density that are interspersed with graupel. Yesterday, this slab was reactive in stability tests, though struggled to propagate a crack. Continuing snow and wind loading today may allow the slab to overcome the minimal friction offered by the icy bed surface. Numerous red flags are present today; ski the snowpack, not the calendar.

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.
• Posted  8:00 a.m., Saturday, April 21, 2018. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Helon Hoffer / Frank Carus, Snow Rangers
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2018-04-21