THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON April 9, 2017 @ 4:44 am
Avalanche Advisory published on April 8, 2017 @ 4:44 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

1. Low

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Above Treeline

1. Low

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Near Treeline

1. Low

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Below Treeline

The avalanche danger is rated LOW at all elevations today as strong winds and light clouds should prevent any wet avalanche problems.  Excercise normal caution and safe travel habits while keeping a heads up for changing conditions.  Look for isolated pockets of unstable snow on select terrain features and adjust your route selection accordingly.

 

 

  • Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Avalanche Problem 1: Normal Caution
  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Continue to practice safe travels habits and good communication in the backcountry.  Areas of weak snow may exist on isolated terrain features and if the sun makes a strong presence, look for changing conditons and the potential for loose wet avalanches in the afternoon.

 

Avalanche Problem 2: Cornice
  • Character ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Cornices have grown large and overhanging on many ridgelines throughout the advisory area and pose a threat to unsuspecting travelers.  Give these cornices a wide berth as they can break back way further than you expect.  Know the terrain you are in and if on the ridgetops, travel conservatively to avoid these cornices.

advisory discussion

The backcountry avalanche danger is rated LOW today at all elevations.  A light freeze last night locked up the previously wet snow surface and strong winds and light clouds this afternoon should prevent wet slide activity today.  That said, if the clouds don't provide some shade to steep slopes, the potential exists for changing conditions and loose wet avalanches.  Keep an eye on the weather today and expect a rapid change if the surface crust breaks down during the midday heat.  Practice safe travel habits and good communication with your partners.  You may still find isolated areas of weak snow, especially in steep, rocky areas near and above treeline.  Remember a LOW danger does not mean no danger.

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 and for your generous donation to the Taos Avalanche Center!  

We will issue the next advisory on Sunday 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!

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 and Friday 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. Friday afternoon's sun effected all but the most northerly of slopes, creating roller balls and a few loose wet slides.  Travel is getting difficult at lower elevations on these warm afternoons as the snowpack loses structure and transitions to a melt/ freeze scenario.

I went for an interesting tour up Long Canyon on Thursday 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: 46 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 inches
weather

Warm and windy will be the story for today and Sunday.  This morning should be mostly sunny before clouds join the party midday.  Temps look to be in the 30s and 40s in the mountains, with West winds building throughout the day, gusting into the 40-50mph range.  Overnight lows will be in the mid to high 20sF. 

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Sunny in the am, partly cloudy by evening. Partly cloudy. Mostly sunny.
Temperatures: high to 46 deg. F. low to 29 deg. F. high to 47 deg. F.
Wind direction: W SW W
Wind speed: 15-25 15-30 15-30
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Mostly Sunny in the am, shifting to partly cloudy in the afternoon. Partly cloudy. Mostly sunny.
Temperatures: high to 40 deg. F. low to 24 deg. F. high to 33 deg. F.
Wind direction: W SW W
Wind speed: 10-25 20-30 20-35
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 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.