THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON April 10, 2017 @ 5:16 am
Avalanche Advisory published on April 9, 2017 @ 5:16 am
Issued by Andy Bond - 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

LOW avalanche danger exists for all elevations today.  Even though snow surface melt should be slower today due to strong winds compared to the last several days, loose wet avalanches may still occur. Instability should be less widespread than earlier in week.  Avoid travel on or below steep slopes that have wet snow.

 

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

The biggest hazard today should be standing upright due to the wind. The wind today should also minimize the warming of the snow surface throughout the day above treeline.  It was a clear night last night and temperatures did get below freezing, but expect the snow surface to warm with direct sun and temperatures reaching above freezing. Today loose wet avalanches are the main concern at lower elevations in steep rocky terrain.  Be on the lookout for rollerballs, pinwheels and wet gloppy snow as these are indications that snow surface is warming.

Graham checking out a loose wet avalanche from Friday

advisory discussion

The backcountry avalanche danger is rated LOW today at all elevations. Remember a LOW danger does not mean no danger. We did get below freezing last night, but just barely.  Lower elevations should warm up today and loose wet avalanches will be our main concern.  Strong winds today should keep the snow surface locked up above treeline.  Even though wet avalanches have peaked as we've transitioned to melt-freeze, they remain our biggest concern in the backcountry for Sunday.  As temperatures warm throughout day be aware of being on or under steep slopes that are seeing direct sun as these slopes will be the most suspect.  Wet snow avalanches are dangerous in that they are hard to escape and even though they should be small, carry enough weight to knock you around.

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.

We've had an amazing season and the spring skiing should be a good one! I know a lot people are already looking to the river and boating season and hopefully we'll transition into a good boating season as well!

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!  

This will be our last issued advisory for the year, but we will update when conditons change through the end of April. We will do an update on Monday morning about spring skiing season. 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 -

Thanks for a great season!

recent observations

We've finally transitioned into melt-freeze.  Saturdays wind kept the window open a lot longer than it would've been with good skiing on E and N aspects even at 2PM. Winds on the ridgeline were strong and moving snow, but not into slabs, just scouring crusts and wrecking havoc on the snowpack.  In the trees at lower elevation the snow was wet and gloppy on the exit which made for tricky skiing.

Pic; Finally some good "corn" snow 

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: 28 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 46 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: W
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

Breezy to windy condtiions are expected today as a low remains to our north forcing the jet directly overhead.  Wind gusts should reach 50 MPH today.  Otherwise the skies should be sunny.  Sunny weather will dominate until Wednesday when there is a possiblility of snow in the forecast and the return of more wind.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Sunday Sunday Night Monday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly sunny.
Temperatures: high to 44 deg. F. low to 21 deg. F. high to 49 deg. F.
Wind direction: W W SW
Wind speed: 10-25 5-25 5-15
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Sunday Sunday Night Monday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly sunny.
Temperatures: high to 36 deg. F. low to 19 deg. F. high to 39 deg. F.
Wind direction: W W SW
Wind speed: 20-25 10-25 5-15
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.