THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON February 25, 2017 @ 5:38 am
Avalanche Advisory published on February 24, 2017 @ 5:38 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

Generally safe avalanche conditions exist today at all elevations.  Remember, a LOW Danger does not mean No Danger, and isolated terrain features may still harbour unstable snow.  Safe travel practices and good group communication are recommended. 

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
advisory discussion

The warm, wet spring-like snowpack from earlier in the week got a nice solid freeze last night, and should stay locked up today.  Warm temps penetrated deep into the snowpack this week, helping to heal the buried weak layers deep in the pack.  Buried layers of facets and depth hoar crystals on the ground are starting to round and strengthen, putting our persistent slab concerns mostly at ease....for now.  Cold temps have returned and look to persist through next week, so our snowpack will witness more changes as the cold returns to the pack.  This recent weather pattern has provided for generally safe avalanche conditions, but avalanches are not impossible in isolated terrain features and extreme terrain.

A dusting to 1" of snow fell in absurdly windy conditions on Thursday.  This shouldn't be enough fresh snow to form wind slabs, but investigate terrain features (as always) and look for signs of wind transported snow.  A windswept moonscape is what you are most likely to encounter today, especially at mid and high elevations - so stuffing a tip in semi-breakable windcrust may be your greatest hazard.

Just a reminder; LOW danger does not mean NO danger.  Continue to practice safe travel habits, good communication with your partners, and be concious of changing conditions.  This will keep us all safe and ready to powder ski once it snows again!  Moving forward our avalanche concerns are up in the air at this point.  More snow will form storm slabs.  More wind will form wind slabs. And sunny days and cold, clear nights will produce faceted layers, prime conditions for creating more persistent slab issues.  Spring wet slides shouldn't be an issue for a while, with cold temps in the forecast for the next week or so.   

We have a fresh beacon practice problem out at TSV for the week of feb21-feb27 - check it out and keep your beacon skills sharp!

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.

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

Winter has returned to the mountains of Northern New Mexico - finally!  Although most mountain locations only picked up an inch or so of snow on Thursday, models are calling for cold and snowy conditions starting Sunday, with the best chance for snow Monday night/ Tuesday.  Warm temps earlier in the week penetrated deep into the snowpack, helping to heal the buried weak layers and basal facets.  The return of cold air to the scenario has locked things up nicely, and we are primed for more snow.  

The big story from Thursday was wind - strong wind.  Gusts in the 40s and sustained winds in the 30s were the story the last 24 hours, and our snow surface will surely reflect that today.  Wind crusts and cold temps dominated the mountain landscape Thursday, and today should be about the same.  Recent near surface facets formed earlier in the week, which are now capped by firm wind crusts, and should not cause a problem until we get a load on them.  See pic below.

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Today looks to be partly cloudy with slight chance for snow showers, but minimal accumulation.  Strong West winds will continue today, with temps in the teens and 20s.  Tonight will be partly cloudy and cold, with lows in the single digits.  The next change in weather looks to be Sunday as a weak upper level trough crosses NM with light precip expected.  Monday night and Tuesday looks to be the best chance for snow in the next few days - and we will welcome it with open arms!

check out the ridge wind at TSV in the last 24 hours!

 

 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: .5 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 20 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 28 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 41 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 1 +/- inches
Total snow depth: 71 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Partly cloudy. Scattered snow showers and strong winds. Partly cloudy. Partly Cloudy and breezy.
Temperatures: high to 24 deg. F. low to 5 deg. F. high to 29 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 10-20 5-20 15-20
Expected snowfall: .1-.7 in. .1-.2 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Friday Friday Night Saturday
Weather: Partly cloudy with scattered snow showers and strong winds. Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy
Temperatures: high to 15 deg. F. low to 0 deg. F. high to 19 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 15-25 10-20 15-25
Expected snowfall: .1-.7 in. .1-.2 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.