THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON December 29, 2017 @ 5:50 am
Avalanche Advisory published on December 28, 2017 @ 5:50 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

The avalanche danger remains LOW across the forecast area.  Any semblance of a snowpack is found on north aspects above 11,000' . Continue to use normal caution when traveling in the backcountry.  Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features especially in areas where small stubborn wind slabs exist on top of weaker snow.

1. Low

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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

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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

Triggering an avalanche today remains unlikely.  Unlikely does not mean impossible and some unstable snow can still be found on north aspects above 11,000'.  Areas where you find small isolated wind slabs resting on top of weak sugary snow is where you can find these instabilities. Though the likelihood of triggering an avalanche is low, taking a ride in one would certainly be painful with this little snow coverage.  

advisory discussion

Generally safe avalanche conditions exist in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains.  This won't change until we get more snow, which is looking increasingly like we'll have to wait until 2018.  The beginning to the 2017/2018 winter season has a good chance as going down as one of the worst starts on record.  Avoiding avalanches today is easy as most slopes are back to bare ground or consisting of non-continuous patches of snow.  Isolated danger can still be found on higher elevation northwest through northeast slopes below ridgelines and in cross loaded gullies where you can find slabs of harder wind blown snow.  These slabs, in many places, are resting on weaker sugary like snow near the ground.  If you find this slab/weak layer combination, the potential is there for a small surface slab to step down into deeper weaker layers resulting in a large enough avalanche to injure you.  

We're committed to producing a product you want to see.  The lack of snow has made it hard on us at the Taos Avalanche Center in year two of operation, but we'll stay positive, as we have a lot of the winter season still left.  For many of us we haven't had the opportunity to play with our new gear in the snow yet. Here's a great article from Doug Chabot with the Gallatin Avalanche Center in MT about the importance of being prepared when traveling in avalanche terrain.  As we wait for snow, it's a great time to get you're hands on your gear and know how it all works.   If you find yourself traveling elsewhere in search of powder, be sure to check out the local avalanche advisory on Avalanche.org for the area you're in!

recent observations

This long dry period has allowed us to get out into a lot of different areas of our forecast area.  We have more snow in the Williams Lake area with snow still lingering on north and some east aspects.  Patchy snow can be found below treeline with any real snowpack existing above 11,000' on northerly aspects.  The "snowpack" is anywhere from 2 to 12" primarily consisting of facets.  Isolated pockets of wind slabs can be found at higher elevations on northerly aspects often times resting on top of weak faceted snow.  We've found these pockets to range anywhere from 1 to 3' in depth.

Photo 1: Northeast facing slopes at 11,500' with a snowpack ranging from 2 to 12" of facets

   

Photo 2: A shallow snowpack at 12,150' on Lobo Peak.  A small soft wind slab on top of 1 to 2mm facets

Photo 3: Snow coverage on N and E aspects, Williams Lake area 12/24

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Not much is changing with the weather as the prolonged dry period will continue. It'll be another day of sunshine with temperatures warming throughout the day. Winds will remain moderate out of the west.  It'll be a little bit longer until we get a return to more "normal" weather for this time of year.  Friday looks to be even warmer than today.  We'll hold off into delving into any long-term models as currently they are in disagreement.   It's looking like we're going to have to wait till 2018 for any moisture to head our way.    

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 22 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 29.1 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 17 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 43 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 7.9 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 44 deg. F. 21-26 deg. F. 47 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 5-15 5-20 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 32-38 deg. F. 22 deg. F. 36-42 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 10-20 decreasing to 5-10 in the afternoon 10-20 10-25
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.