THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON February 28, 2017 @ 5:47 am
Avalanche Advisory published on February 27, 2017 @ 5:47 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

LOW avalanche danger continues today at all elevations. Isolated areas of instability may exist. Small avalanches could still occur in isolated or extreme terrain. Use normal caution while traveling in the backcountry by using good travel techniques when traveling in or below avalanche terrain.  The avalanche danger is likley to increase tomorrow with expected heavy snowfall and strong winds tonight and Tuesday.

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

The avalanche danger is LOW at all elevations today, but member Low danger doesn't mean no danger - continue to assess terrain features and practice good travel habits.  Be mindful of intricate and extreme terrain, and don't rule out the possibility of a slide on isolated terrain features.

 

advisory discussion

Over the last 24 hours the mountains have experienced the continued theme of cold temps and strong west winds.  Today should add a little bit of snow into the mix, with the bulk of snowfall accumulation expected tonight and Tuesday.  The snow forecasted for today (0 to 1") doesn't look to be enough to change the overall avalanche conditions. If the weather changes and we get more snow than expected, strong west winds could produce wind slabs.  Continually monitor the changing conditions, assessing the slopes and terrain you plan to get on.     

The warm, wet spring-like snowpack from earlier in the week is locked up from the very cold temperatures the last several 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 the week, as our snowpack is witnessing more changes as the cold returns to the pack.  Widespread formation of near surface facets, and layers of facets below the recent melt/freeze crusts will be cause for concern if the forecast snow totals are realized (10-14" with over an inch of SWE).  I don't expect today's flurries to add enough of a load to collapse the crust / weak layers, but tonights storm totals will likely spike instability for Tuesday.

 

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

Sliding around the backcoutry has been challenging the last few days.  Breakable wind slabs and wind crusts are intermixed with rock-hard crusts, scoured by days of strong winds.  We are finding widespread areas of sugary facets just below 2-4inch wind slabs.  These facets are showing a willingness to propagate in stability tests and will likely be a concerning weak layer once we put a load on them (Monday night/ Tues).  

Skiing conditions have been less than ideal, but we were psyched to see several folks out exploring over the weekend, and most folks found the similarly hair-raising conditions.  While stability is generally good, the chances of stuffing a tip into the surface crust were concerning.  Skinning across any exposed area revealed a variable crust with sugary facets below.  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 forecast for Monday- Tuesday.  

 

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: a little dust atop wind and melt freeze crusts, w/ facets below

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

At 6am light snow is falling in the mountains, but forecasts are only calling for less than 1" today, before the storm turns on this evening into Tuesday.  Expect 6-14" of fresh snow by Tuedsay afternoon if the forecast verifies.  Temps look to be in 20s today with overnight lows in the teens.  Breezy conditions should help usher the storm in, with expected WSW winds in the 15-25mph range.

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 10.9 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 13.8 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: W
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 22 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 36 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 1/2 inches
Total snow depth: 70.6 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: Partly cloudy with snow showers likely. Cloudy with snow showers. Cloudy with snow showers
Temperatures: high to 35 deg. F. low to 26 deg. F. high to 32 deg. F.
Wind Direction: SW SW W
Wind Speed: 10-25 10-25 10-20
Expected snowfall: .2 in. 2-8 in. 2-6 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: Partly cloudy with snow showers likely. Cloudy with snow showers. Cloudy with snow showers
Temperatures: high to 25 deg. F. low to 19 deg. F. high to 23 deg. F.
Wind Direction: SW SW W
Wind Speed: 15-25 20-30 15-25
Expected snowfall: .2 in. 3-10 in. 2.5 - 7 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.