Avalanche Advisory published on April 7, 2017 @ 5:42 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

2. Moderate


Above Treeline

2. Moderate


Near Treeline

2. Moderate


Below Treeline

The avalanche danger is rated LOW at all elevations this morning, but will rise to MODERATE as warm temps and direct sun bring the possibility of natural and human triggered loose wet avalanches.  Loose wet slides will likely start as point releases in the rocks and could entrain enough snow to be dangerous to a skier or rider.



  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 2: Loose Wet
  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Very Likely
  • Size ?
    Very Large

Another day of warm temps and direct morning sun will warm the snow surface to it's melting point, creating potentially dangerous wet slide avalanche conditions by midday.  Natural and human triggered loose wet avalanches will be possible as the surface crust breaks down.  Roller balls and pinwheels are clear warning signs of loose wet activity to come.  The fresh snow from earlier in the week fell on a smooth crust, which will provide an effective sliding surface for wet avalanches today.  Plan your route selection to avoid sunny aspects by midday and expect lower elevation zones to be manky and gutless as you make your exit from the high country.

Loose wet avalanche from on a SE aspect on Wednesday around 1 PM

advisory discussion

With a mild freeze last night we start our day with a LOW avalanche danger at all elevations.  As warm temps and direct sun effect the snowpack, the avalanche danger will rise to MODERATE as human triggered and natural loose wet slides are possible.  Roller balls and pinwheels tells us it's time to move to shadier slopes, as the snow surface structure breaks down due to melting.  These warning signs make this avalanche problem quite manageable, suggesting getting out early and calling it a day as your ski and boot penetration increases and you start sinking into the slushy surface.  The snowpack is in transition yet again as we trend toward a melt/freeze situation and good spring corn skiing.

Aside from midday melting, the new snow from Tuesday is settling well and windslabs formed earlier in the week have gained strength in the warm temps.  Keep an eye out for rogue, isolated wind slabs on ridges and the sides of gullies and be suspect of cornices breaking further back than expected.  Low elevation areas are losing snow coverage quickly, making for challenging approaches and exits.  Expect variable and unsupportive conditions on your exit through these zones in the afternoon.

Be safe out there and enjoy this amazing coverage we have - and please send us your observations!

We would like to give a special thank you to everyone involved in the Ascension at Ski Santa Fe event for your generous donation to the Taos Avalanche Center!  

We will issue the next advisory on Saturday 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!

We will be changing up our format here shortly as we move into spring time conditions.  We will update you guys soon on what that will look like, but we plan on issuing a regular advisory through Sunday April 9th.  

recent observations

Thursday brought warm temps and high angle sun to the mountains, and the snowpack noticed.  Snow surface melting started by 10am on many slopes, and slushy conditions soon followed.  I went for an interesting tour up Long Canyon and found sloppy conditions at low and mid elevations and saw a few small loose wet slides on solar aspects in the near treeline zone.  My snowpit findings revealed a snowpack in transition as spring settles in on us.  Stability was good except for the loose wet slide concern and the facet/ crust combos in the upper snowpack were showing signs of healing, as the warm air penetrates and rounds the snow crystals.  The low elevation coverage is shrinking fast and I had to walk through mud and running water several times on the way out the trail.  See pics below.

Pic; "boney" exit from Long Canyon on Thurs



Pic; Cornice breaking back further than you might expect on an East aspect from Wednesday



CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 32.4 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 44 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: NA mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: NA mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 97.3 inches

We are in store for another warm sunny day in the mountains, before light clouds and building winds arrive this afternoon and evening.  Temps look to be in the 30s and 40s with winds out of the West from 10-20mph.  Overnight lows will be in the mid 20s while winds continue to build with possible gusts into the 50mph range by Saturday.  The weekend should be partly cloudy and windy.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Sunny in the am, partly cloudy by evening. Partly cloudy. Partly cloudy.
Temperatures: high to 48 deg. F. low to 27 deg. F. high to 47 deg. F.
Wind direction: W SW W
Wind speed: 5-15 5-20 15-25
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Mostly Sunny in the am, shifting to partly cloudy in the afternoon. Partly cloudy. Partly.
Temperatures: high to 40 deg. F. low to 25 deg. F. high to 41 deg. F.
Wind direction: W W W
Wind speed: 10-20 15-25 15-25
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 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.