2016-2017 Season Review: Year 1 of the Taos Avalanche Center is in the books. You can read the season review here. Thanks for a great and safe season and we look forward to seeing you next winter!
Late season snowpack update:
We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories but will update the site as changes in condtions warrant through the end of April. A generally stable spring snowpack and long days allow folks to get out into higher, further, and rowdier terrain. This brings with it an increase in exposure as we push into steeper and bigger terrain. Don't turn off the avy savy senses and keep an eye out for changing conditions. A few thoughts for interpreting spring avalanche problems:
As our snowpack is transitioning to a definitive melt/freeze situation our associated potential avalanche problems are loose wet slide and wet slab avalanches. Consecutive nights without freezing temps should give cause for concern in relation to these problems. Melting of the snow surface will result in snowballing and pinwheeling, which tells us that the wet slide hazard is rising and it's time to find colder snow. Rain on snow events can also spike avalanche hazard as it can undercut any structure in the snowpack, causing wet slides. Here is the link for the Powderhorn Snotel site which has hourly temps and total snow and water amounts.
New snow and wind will bring the potential for loose dry, loose wet and wind slab avalanches. Monitor how the new snow is bonding to the underlying surface and reassess often as even a few minutes of sun on new snow can cause instability. New snow instabilties generally heal fairly quickly with normal spring weather but careful snowpack evalution is essential for safe travel in avalanche terrain.
Spring can be an active time for cornice failure. Be mindful that overhanging cornices create a dangerous situation and can break back further than we think. Cornice falls can be fatal and the weight of a falling cornice can trigger an avalanche deeper in the snowpack. Give these monsters a wide berth when travelling the ridgetops that harbor them, and be mindful that warming temps can be enough to trigger the release of cornices.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us get the Taos Avalanche Center up and running this season - it would not have been possible without all of you who donated gear, money, or your services, and those of you who shared your observations, participated in a talk or class, and provided moral suppot. Thank you so much and know that we can only keep the avalanche center going with your continued support. The DONATE tab on this site will not be taking the summer off, so please don't be shy!
If you get out for some spring touring, please share with us your observations on the "submit observations" tab above or at firstname.lastname@example.org , and thanks!
Stay safe out there and enjoy the amazing coverage in the mountains, and thanks again,
Andy Bond and Graham Turnage (and Erna the dog)
This advisory applies only to backcountry areas outside established ski area boundaries, Click here for a map of the area. . This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory expires 24 hours after the posted time unless otherwise noted. The information in this advisory is provided by the Taos Avalanche Center who is solely responsible for its content.