THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 1, 2018 @ 5:24 am
Avalanche Advisory published on December 31, 2017 @ 5:24 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger is LOW today at all elevations.  Snow is confined to north aspects above 11,000'.  If traveling in this terrain be aware of small isolated wind slabs on top of weaker snow.  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

Triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, and avalanche danger will not increase until we get more snow.  Most slopes are not holding enough snow to avalanche, and snow coverage is confined to north facing slopes above 11,000'.  Any potential avalanche hazard would be found on northwest through northeast aspects, where isolated surface slabs have been formed atop weak faceted snow.  Most of these slabs are not continuous and could produce only a small avalanche.

advisory discussion

Generally safe avalanche conditions continue to exist in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains.  Avoiding avalanches today is easy, as most slopes are back to bare ground or non-continuous patches of snow.  Any avalanche danger that does exist can be found on higher elevation northwest through northeast slopes, where slabs of harder, wind blown snow exist in pockets below ridgelines and in cross loaded gullies.  In many places, these slabs sit atop weak sugary 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.  Any avalanche would be small, but with limited snow coverage lots of ground hazards still exist.  

Avalanche danger will continue to be LOW until we get a storm that produces enough snow for cohesive slabs to cap our weak snowpack on north aspects.  At least now there is a possibility of that happening in the ten day forecast!  So far, models are in agreement that a weather pattern change is on deck for next weekend.  Its still too far out to make any claims, but at least NM has some color to it other than white or very light blue.  In the meantime, keep enjoying your non-winter activity of choice, and celebrate well to ring in the new year! 

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: 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

   

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

High pressure continues today, with partly cloudy skies, light to moderate west wind, and temperatures in the upper 30's/low 40's.  Similar conditions look to remain in place until next weekend, when things could finally change.  As of now, the GFS, Canadian, and ECWMF models are all still in agreement, showing a much hoped for weather pattern change.  With that many days until the anticipated shift, we'll just have to wait and see, but its better than nothing.    

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 24.5 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 42.6 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 24 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 35.3 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 7.8 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Sunday Sunday Night Monday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy then Clearing
Temperatures: 41 deg. F. 19 deg. F. 40 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 5-15 5-15 5-15
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Sunday Sunday Night Monday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy then clearing
Temperatures: 29-35 deg. F. 18 deg. F. 29-34 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 10-20 5-20 10-15
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.