THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON April 5, 2017 @ 5:55 am
Avalanche Advisory published on April 4, 2017 @ 5:55 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

2. Moderate

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Above Treeline

2. Moderate

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Near Treeline

2. Moderate

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Below Treeline

Due to forecasted heavy snowfall and strong WSW winds the avalanche danger is rated MODERATE today at all elevations.  Human triggered storm and wind slab avalanches are possible, especially on steep, wind loaded slopes.  Look for the avalanche danger to rise towards CONSIDERABLE throughout the day if the forecast verifies. 

 

  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Storm Slab
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Forecasts are calling for up to 12inches of snow with .7" of Snow water equivalent by tonight.  If the forecast verifies fresh storm slabs will blanket most slopes, creating potentially dangerous avalanche conditions.  Be weary of all slopes steeper than 35 degrees with more than 8" of new snow on them, especially those loaded by the wind.  These fresh storm slabs need time to bond to the existing snow surface, and we should see peak instability during and immediately after the storm (midday today thru tonight).

Avalanche Problem 2: Wind Slab
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New snow and strong winds are a perfect recipe for wind slab formation.  Today we expect to see up to a foot of new snow and as of 5am WSW winds are gusting into the mid 60mph range in the high country.  Average wind speeds look to hover in the 20-30mph range throughout today - perfect for building wind slabs near and above treeline.  Freshly formed wind slabs need time to bond to the existing snow surface and should be avoided today.  Winds are forecast to swing to the North today, and variable winds will potentially build wind slabs on all aspects until proven otherwise.

advisory discussion

Today's avalanche danger is rated MODERATE at all elevations but may increase if the forecast verifies and we see more than 8" of snow, especially near and above treeline.  Human triggered storm and wind slab avalanches are possible, as this new snow needs time to settle.  Strong winds are expected to continue throughout the day, and coupled with more new snow will elevate the avalanche hazard by building wind slabs on the leeward sides of ridges and gullies.  These wind slabs should be easy to identify and should be avoided.  These avalanche problems are only relevant if the mountains receive more than a couple of inches of snow - which is expected.  Today should be a powder day for you backcountry enthusiasts, but remember that new snow and wind is the perfect recipe for avalanches, as we expect to see peak instability this afternoon.  Evaluate how this new snow is bonding to the existing snow surface and choose your terrain wisely to avoid steep, wind loaded slopes.  Generally stable conditions exist deeper in the snowpack, beneath the new snow from the last few days.

Be safe out there and enjoy this dose of winter weather - and please send us your observations!

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

 

recent observations

Monday brought more wild spring weather and the mountains saw a few fierce snow squals which dropped a couple of inches of graupel as this wet weather system approached.  Intense graupel loading was observed at the base of cliffs and Andy found a few small, isolated windslabs in the higher elevations as pictured below.  Warm temps and sun from Sunday had effected all but truely north facing slopes, making for interesting skiing conditions.

pic; graupel pooling at the base of cliffs creating cones on Monday

pic; small windslab from Monday

Sunday was a mash-up of weather in the mountains.  During our tour in the greater Williams Lake drainage we were psyched to see lots of folks gettin' after it - skiing and riding all over the place on a generally stable snowpack.  Strong periods of intense sun quickly changed the 2-3 inches of fresh snow on most slopes, although truely north facing slopes sheltered cold snow.  We observed a bit of rollerballing on S and SW aspects in the afternoon but found good skiing on "hot pow" at upper and mid elevations.  Stability tests indicated a well healed snowpack in general, as we were not able to initiate collapse or propagation.  Check out the VIDEO explaining our findings.  We did observe small, isolated wind slabs at the ridgetops, but these seem to be bonding well to the underlying surface.  The springtime cornices are large and looming overhead on a few isolated ridgelines, which we avoided (pic below).

 

Saturday brought snow in the morning and midday sun that warmed slopes up to about 11,000'.  Winds during the storm stripped some slopes and loaded others.  Wind slabs were found near and above treeline but were not everywhere.  The wind slabs were forming on crusts that formed Friday before the storm and stability tests in the pits we were in, were indicating that this new snow was bonding pretty well as we were not able to initiate collapse or propagation in extended column or propagation saw tests.  Ski patrol at TSV did report triggering a small wind slab on a NW aspect above treeline on Saturday.

Pic; wind slab on a west aspect near treeline

 

 

CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 17.9 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 26.5 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 23 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 64 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 3.5 inches
Total snow depth: 97.3 inches
weather

As of 6am it's dumping in the mountains of Northern New Mexico!  With 3" already on the ground, forecasts are calling for snow most of the day with accumulations in the 6-10 inch range (model forecasts are a bit conflicting on snowfall amounts).  Winds are gusting into the 60s out of the WSW and should shift to the North during the day.  Temps will be in teens and 20s today, with overnight lows dipping into the single digits.  Wednesday looks to be a calm, clear day.

 

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Snow. Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny and calm.
Temperatures: high to 30 deg. F. low to 17 deg. F. high to 34 deg. F.
Wind direction: WSW shifting to N N W
Wind speed: 10-20 5-15 5-15
Expected snowfall: 4-9 in. 1.3 - 2.1 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Snow and strong gusting winds. Mostly cloudy with snow showers likely. Mostly sunny and calm.
Temperatures: high to 21 deg. F. low to 8 deg. F. high to 31 deg. F.
Wind direction: WSW shifting to NNE N W
Wind speed: 15-30 with gusts to 65. 5-15 5-15
Expected snowfall: 5.2 - 10.6 in. 1.3 - 2.5 in. 0 in.
Disclaimer

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.