THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON February 23, 2017 @ 6:06 am
Avalanche Advisory published on February 22, 2017 @ 6:06 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger will rise to Moderate near and below treeline if the forecast verifies and we see rain. Triggering a wet loose avalanche is possible today. Warm temperatures and rain will produce wet sloppy snow at mid and low elevations.  Avoid steep rollovers and terrain traps such as gullies and creeks.  

 

1. Low

?

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

2. Moderate

?

Near Treeline
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

2. Moderate

?

Below Treeline
Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
    Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
  • 1. Low
  • 2. Moderate
  • 3. Considerable
  • 4. High
  • 5. Extreme
Avalanche Problem 1: Loose Wet
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Yesterday we hit 49°F around 9000' with temperatures reaching above freezing at 12,400'.  Another warm day is on tap with the potential of rain below 11,000'.  We had a very soft refreeze last night at lower elevations with temperatures at 5AM already above freezing.  If we do get rain, and more than just a light sprinkle expect the avalanche danger to rise near and below treeline.

advisory discussion

Today will be another warm day with near record temps, but the more concerning issue is the potential for rain below 11,000'.  An avalanche forecast is only as good as the weather forecast and models are showing varying amounts of precipatation for us today. Today might be one of the rare occasions where hopefully we don't see precipation falling from the sky. Rain is always a scary thing on our shallow continental snowpack.

We had a very soft refreeze last night at lower elevations with temperatures already this morning above freezing at 9000'.  Moderate to strong surface winds today should keep the alpine locked up. Northerly aspects at mid and low elevations have a poor overall snowpack structure with cold snow.  Introducing rain to this type snowpack could overwhelm it and produce wet slides potentially failing on basal facets near the ground. See Video from Tuesday where we talk about the concerns of wet slides.  We've bumped the avalanche danger up to MODERATE near and below treeline assumming we could see .2 to .3 inches of water in the form of rain.  If the forecast verifies throughout the day, expect the avalanche danger to rise. Avoid slopes with damp "sloppy" snow. Wet slide avalanches are not like dry avalanches in that they are harder to manage once you are in them.  Avoid terrain traps like gullies and creeks as well as slopes where a loose wet avalanche could sweep you over a cliff.

    

     

 

We are going to do another avalanche talk TONIGHT, Wednesday February 22nd at 6PM at Taos Mesa Brewing (Mothership).  The talk this week will be a mid-season snowpack review and hopefully a productive discussion about backcountry rescue and the related challenges we face here in Northern New Mexico.

If you get into the backcountry, please drop us a line at Taosavalanchecenter@gmail.com or on the "Submit Observations" tab at the top of the homepage.  Your field observations are extremely helpful, no matter how simple, and we thank all of you who have shared.

Need to brush up on your beacon skills?  Check out the NEW beacon practice problem we have out at Taos Ski Valley.  This is a new beacon problem for the week of 2/14 - 2/21. High pressure is a great time to get some training in before our next storm this weekend.  Thank you Taos Ski Patrol for your continued support!  We will switch the problem up on Monday or Tuesday - stay tuned.

If you're looking to get some exercise and support a great cause look into the Ben Myers Ridge-A-Thon.  This event has been going on now for 20 Years. Come hike the ridge at Taos Ski Valley March 17 & 18th and raise some money that benefits our community!

recent observations

Digging on southerly aspects on Monday even above treeline we were finding wet snow all the way to ground.  This was capped by a hard crust from the solid freeze the night before.  Percolation columns where free water had penetrated down in the snowpack probably from 4 to 5 days was also observed.  North Facing trees were still holding pretty good "recycled" powder.  Things started corning up on southerly aspects around noon above treeline as winds and slightly cooler temps on Monday kept most things locked up.

We spent Tuesday back in the South Fork Drainage.  Rapid warming throughout the day especially when traveling on a south aspect in the middle of the day.  Surface winds were light out of the West. The south facing snowpack was wet to the ground  with snowpack temps ranging from -.5degreesC to -1.5degreesC.  That said, we were not able to get the surface snow moving at midday, but noted we would not have wanted to be on steep sunny slopes later in the afternoon, as the warming trend was very noticable.  We found dry snow and near surface facets on the North faces, and sloppy, post corn snow on the South faces after 1:30pm

Pic: South facing snowpit around 11,700' at 1:30PM in the afternoon.  The top 2 inches had corned up and we had wet snow to ground.

Pic: An old Percolation column that I isolated.  On Monday this was solid ice from a SE Aspect around 12,400'

Pic:  Wet snow (you can make a snowball with it) at the bottom of the snowpack on a SE aspect at 12,400'

Pic: "Recycled" Powder below treeline in the trees on a North Aspect

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

The warming trend will continue today with another near record breaking day with temperatures. Winds will be moderate to strong (15 - 30 MPH) today out of the southwest that should provide some relief from the warm temps.  Rain is in the forecast today!  The question is how much.  Temps will cool tonight and winds will ramp up tomorrow. 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 25 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 39 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 15 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 43 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 71.2 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Partly cloudy. Isolated showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon Mostly cloudy with scattered rain showers in the evening... Then slight chance of snow showers after midnight Partly Cloudy isolated snow showers in the morning
Temperatures: high to 52 deg. F. low to 28 deg. F. high to 38 deg. F.
Wind Direction: SW SW W
Wind Speed: 10 - 30 10-25 15-35
Expected snowfall: 0.01-0.03 RAIN in. 0.03-0.06 RAIN in. 0.1-1.1 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Partly cloudy, isolated snow showers in the morning, then isolated thunderstorms and snow showers in the afternoon Mostly Cloudy with scattered snow showers in the evening, then partly cloudy with slight chance of snow showers after midnight Partly Cloudy. Scattered snow showers in the morning
Temperatures: high to 42 deg. F. low to 22 deg. F. high to 26 deg. F.
Wind Direction: SW SW W
Wind Speed: 15-30 15-30 20-35
Expected snowfall: 0.1-0.2 in. 0.1-0.7 in. 0.1-1.2 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.