THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON February 26, 2017 @ 5:22 am
Avalanche Advisory published on February 25, 2017 @ 5:22 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

LOW avalanche danger exists today at all elevations. Isolated areas of instability may exist. Use normal caution while traveling in the backcountry by using good travel techniques when traveling in or below avalanche terrain. 

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

No specific avalanche problem of major concern exists in the backcountry at this time. Isolated very small wind slab avalanche activity is unlikely but not impossible today, especially in complex or extreme terrain above treeline from 2" of snow and strong winds these last two days.

Hopefully this 3 week period of high pressure was just a little mid winter break and snow will return!  WIth that in mind, continue best practice travel techniques for travel in or below avalanche terrain. This includes exposing only one person at a time to steep slopes and not grouping up in low angle avalanche runout areas that are connected to steeper terrain above. Avoid traveling near cornice edges or stopping below cornice features as large sections of cornice collapse can occur.

advisory discussion

The warm, wet spring-like snowpack from earlier in the week is locked up from the cold temperatures the last two days.  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.

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 and Friday was wind - strong wind and the return of bitterly cold temps (It didn't get above 0°F above 12,000' on Friday).  Gusts in the 40s and sustained WSW winds in the 30s were the story the last 48 hours, and our snow surface took a beating. This has formed breakable to bullet proof hard crusts. Mid and lower elevations have a 4 to 6" melt-freeze crust except for northerly aspects that are still holding on to some "recycled" powder in wind protected areas.  Check out Graham's Video from Friday talking about the winds and the potential storm Sunday - Tuesday. Stay safe out there today as the skiing might be the biggest challenge!

Pic: Breakable wind crust

Pic: Buried NS Facets that might become a problem if buried by storm.

Pic: Melt-Freeze crust on a East aspect below treeline w/ facets below the crust.

Pic: Wind swept and refrozen hard surface above treeline from Friday.  New Snow Sunday-Tuesday will fall on some very firm surfaces above treeline 

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Today should be somewhat more pleasant than yesterday!  The sun should make a return and temperatures will be slightly warmer.  Winds will still be breezy out of the west before the first of two storms approach our region.  Sunday's storm doesn't look to be as potent as Monday Nights/Tuesday.  Any return to winter would be great and maybe we can add to our 6" of snow in February!  

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: -3.2 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 8.6 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 22 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 48 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 70.7 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Partly cloudy. Partly Cloudy with isolated snow showers
Temperatures: high to 31 deg. F. low to 14 deg. F. high to 32 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 5-20 5-20 10-15
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0.1-1.2 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Partly Cloudy in the evening then becoming mostly cloudy Mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers
Temperatures: high to 23 deg. F. low to 4 deg. F. high to 22 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W W
Wind Speed: 15-25 15-25 15-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 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.