Avalanche Advisory published on April 1, 2017 @ 5:05 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

2. Moderate


Above Treeline

2. Moderate


Near Treeline

2. Moderate


Below Treeline

MODERATE avalanche danger exists today at all elevations due to storm slab avalanches. Human triggered storm slab avalanches are possible on slopes steeper that 35 degrees with 8" or more of snow. Evaluate the snowpack and terrain carefully before committing to any route and use this information to identify and avoid areas of concern. 


  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Storm Slab
  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Very Likely
  • Size ?
    Very Large

Our main concern today is the new snow that fell overnight and is forecasted to continue throughout the day and evening. 4 to 6 inches of snow has fallen overnight and expect avalanche danger to increase if the forecast verifies and and we receive additional snow with moderate NE winds. Steep slopes where you find 8" or more of wind effected snow will be the most suspect. Be aware of a graupel layer that fell at the start of the storm.  Graupel tends to pool below cliffs, that could now be buried by a storm slab.  

Dig down into the snow identifying how well this new snow is bonding to the variety of old snow surfaces.  This is easy and will give you an indication of the stability of the slopes you plan to play on.

advisory discussion

Not a bad way to start off April and no this isn't an April Fools joke, with 4 to 6" of snow overnight and around .5" of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) already having fallen by 6 AM this morning. Another unusual loading pattern with moderate winds out of the NE for the second storm in a row.  Today human triggered storm slab avalanches are possible at all elevations where you find 8" or more of snow.  Expect avalanche danger to rise throughout the day if the forecast verifies and snow totals start to increase. Expect to find the deepest pockets of snow below ridgetops and cross loaded gullies.  NE winds will load slopes in a different manner than we're typically accustomed to with our typical WSW winds. 

Snow started falling around 4PM on Friday in the form of graupel as the cold front met the warm air. This can be a common occurrence with these spring storms.  It's hard to know how much graupel fell in the early evening hours but be aware of areas under cliffs where graupel can pool forming a weak layer.  Most of this new snow is falling on a variety of old snow surfaces from sun/melt-freeze crusts to wind slabs near and above treeline.   

The instability today should be confined to the new snow.  Dig down in the snow to see how well this new snow is bonding to the existing snow surface.  Pay attention to obvious signs of storm slab instability like cracking and collapsing.   


We will issue the next advisory on Sunday morning, and if you get out into the backcountry, please share any observations with us at or on the "submit observations" tab at the top of the homepage - and Thank You!

Sorry gang, we don't have an avalanche beacon problem set up this week (yet) but will keep you posted as soon as we do.

recent observations

Graupel started this storm off around 4PM on Friday as the cold front passed.  Hard to know how much graupel was actually fell but it was coming down for a good hour as we were leaving.  Temps were warm (34° F) below treeline when the snow started falling.  Mid and high elevation temperatures were colder and below freezing.  It'll be interesting to see how much graupel fell before it turned to snowflakes.  We observed wet snow a lower elevations all the way to the ground. 

Andy and Erna the dog and I toured up around the waterfalls in the lower Lake Fork/ Kachina area on Thursday and found wind loading and slab building on a N aspect near treeline.  That said we were encouraged by what we found in our stability tests as we could not initiate collapse or propagation of buried layers in the snowpack.  We also found good skiing in the morning before midday sun pummeled most slopes. Here's our VIDEO.

Check out Andy's VIDEO from Wednesday, which was a great day in the backcountry for observing North wind transporting snow, forming small isolated wind slabs.  On Wed a regular observer noticed a natural wind slab avalanche on a NW face behind Lake Fork peak, which he surmised was a normally thin spot, now loaded from East winds at the ridgetops.

Pic; West face showing wind slabs formed from NE earlier in the week.

Pic; N facing windslab below "His and Hers" on Thurs.





CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 18 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 34.9 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: NE
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 20 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 56 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 4-6 inches
Total snow depth: 97.7 inches

A large, very slow moving low pressure system centered near the Arizona/New Mexico line will continue to sag toward the southeast today.  We are currently under a Winter Storm Warning with snow forecasted throughout the day into the evening.  An additonal 6 to 8 inches of snow could fall during this time.  Winds will be moderate out of the NE before shifting to NW this evening.  Sunday will bring a slight break before another pacific low will cross our area on Monday into Tuesday.  Not a bad way to start April!


Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Snow Mostly cloudy. Snow likely in the evening, then slight chance of snow after midnight. Partly Cloudy in the morning then clearing.
Temperatures: high to 36 deg. F. low to 19 deg. F. high to 46 deg. F.
Wind direction: NE NE shifting to NW NW
Wind speed: 10-15 5-15 5-10
Expected snowfall: 1.6-5.5 in. 1.3-2.1 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Snow Mostly cloudy. Snow likely in the evening, then slight chance of snow after midnight. Partly cloudy in the morning then clearing.
Temperatures: high to 26 deg. F. low to 14 deg. F. high to 34 deg. F.
Wind direction: NE NE shifting to NW NW
Wind speed: 5-15 5-10 5-10
Expected snowfall: 3-6.5 in. 1.6-2.4 in. 0 in.

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.