THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON December 28, 2017 @ 5:17 am
Avalanche Advisory published on December 27, 2017 @ 5:17 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

LOW avalanche danger continues for all aspects and elevations.  Human triggered avalanches are unlikely and normal caution while traveling in the backcountry is advised.   

 

1. Low

?

Above Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

1. Low

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Near Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

1. Low

?

Below Treeline
Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
    Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
  • 1. Low
  • 2. Moderate
  • 3. Considerable
  • 4. High
  • 5. Extreme
Avalanche Problem 1: Normal Caution
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Generally safe avalanche conditions still exist.  Isolated pockets of wind slab do still exist above treeline, though over time the possibility of triggering an avalanche has become even more unlikely.  If you find yourself standing atop or punching through a firm, hollow-sounding surface, then you've found a wind slab.  These exist as pockets of snow in crossloaded gullies or beneath ridgelines, and are still worth avoiding.  Though the likelihood of triggering an avalanche is low, taking a ride in one would certainy be painful with this little snow coverage.  

advisory discussion

You guessed it: no significant changes to the avalanche conditions since yesterday.  That will be most likely the case until we get some more snow in the Sangre de Cristos. 

Windslabs and can be found as firm pockets of snow in crossloaded gullies or in the lee of ridges above treeline.  The likelihood of triggering an avalanche in these pockets has been decreasing over time since their formation, but if any avalanche danger does exist in our backcountry these are the spots.  Because these windloaded zones tend to punctute rocky, exposed terrain, taking even a small ride in an avalanche could be a bad situation. 

Backcounty travel on planks made for snow would still be a stretch, as pockets of snow deep enough for turns are largely disconnected.  However, that doesn't mean you can't brush off your avalanche gear and get your head back in the snow!  Its easy for motivtion to wane with this many dry days in the forecast, but the reality is that that same statement is also a strong case to get acquainted with what does exist and where in the snowpack.  Once its all covered by new snow, we'll have a tenuous situation on our hands.  In most places digging in the snow is easy to achieve with just a gloved hand, and many of the grains lower in the snowpack are large enough to appreciate without a magnifying lens.  It will be especially worthwhile to look around at where windslab exists currently.  These are generally the same places that have held snow and previous windloading since November, making them the deepest, most complex, and once it snows, most suspect, slopes in our backcountry.  

Snow, like all things, is perpetually changing- even in monotonous stretches of weather like the one we're in currently.  In this dry spell we'll keep monitoring the ways in which the snow is changing, which will become increasingly important as weather approches.  At this point its a waiting game, so get outside, check out the snow, and its in everyone's best interest for you to do a snow dance.  Either it will work, or maybe just the dancing will cheer you up.   

If you find yourself traveling elsewhere in search of powder, be sure to check out the local avalanche advisory on Avalanche.org.

recent observations

Photo 1: Snow coverage on N and E aspects, Williams Lake area 12/24

Photo 2: Windaffected snow on Wheeler Peak 12/24

Photo 3: Changes in the snow coverage over the last several days.  Top to Bottom: Thursday 12/21- snow coverage just before the most recent storm; Friday 12/22- new snow from Thursday night before the wind kicked up; Sunday 12/24- A mix of scoured and windloaded slopes. 

 

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was... Mostly Sunny skies are forecasted for the next several days, with daytime temperatures forecasted in the lower 40's and moderate SW winds.  Snow still seems a far fetched hope for the next ten day period.

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 19 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 35.3 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 16 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 22.8 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 7.4 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 42 deg. F. 20-25 deg. F. 42 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 5-20 5-20 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 33 deg. F. 20 deg. F. 35 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 10-20 10-25 10-20
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.