THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON March 31, 2017 @ 5:42 am
Avalanche Advisory published on March 30, 2017 @ 5:42 am
Issued by Graham Turnage - Taos Avalanche Center

2. Moderate

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Above Treeline

2. Moderate

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Near Treeline

2. Moderate

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Below Treeline

MODERATE avalanche danger exists due to wind slab avalanches above and near treeline, where moderate to strong winds and newly fallen snow has created potentially dangerous avalanche conditions. Human triggered wind slab avalanches are possible near and above treeline. Steeper terrain will be most suspect today.  Afternoon warming and direct sun will raise the loose wet avalanche danger at all elevations today.    

  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
Avalanche Problem 1: Wind Slab
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New snow from the last couple of days has been transported by variable moderate and strong winds, forming isolated wind slabs on leeward sides of ridges and gullies.  These slabs will heal with time but remain touchy in places, especially on slopes steeper than 35degrees.  These wind slabs formed in unusual places with North and NE winds Tues night/wed, causing potential instability on slopes usually scoured by wind.  Winds have shifting back to our usual West so expect isolated wind slabs on all aspects until you prove otherwise.

Avalanche Problem 2: Loose Wet
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Midday temps look to be in the 30s today with strong solar input.  These conditions will elevate the wet slide avalanche danger as the snow surface heats up and becomes saturated.  Loose wet slides are possible and will trend towards likely by early afternoon.  Suspect slopes are any receiving direct sun, and those around rock bands at mid and low elevations.  Rollerballs and pinwheeling are sure signs it's time to move to shadier slopes.

advisory discussion

Today human triggered wind slab avalanches are possible and the avalanche danger is MODERATE at all elevations.  These slabs were formed on aspects typically scoured by WSW winds, creating potentially unstable conditions on aspects you're not used to seeing wind loaded near and above treeline.  Wind slabs don't exist on all slopes and require careful evaluation today.  The new snow from early in the week fell on a host of crusts, and seems to be bonding well in most places where it was not effected by the wind.  A cold clear night last night has pulled some moisture out of the surface snow and should provide for some good skiing and riding conditions this morning, before midday warming and strong spring sun changes things quickly.  Midday warming will elevate the wet slide danger with loose wet avalanches likely by lunchtime on sunny aspects and at lower elevations.  Look for surface melting, snowballing and pinwheeling as things heat up.  Adjust your terrain choices accordingly to avoid the loose wet slide problem, especially in steep, exposed terrain.

We will issue the next advisory on Friday morning, and if you get out into the backcountry, please share any observations with us at taosavalanchecenter@gmail.com or on the "submit observations" tab at the top of the homepage - and Thank You!

Events and Happenings:

Many of you have been asking and we are going to be teaching a Level 1 avalanche class Friday March 31st - Sunday April 2nd.  For more information please email Andy or Graham at andy@taosavalanchecenter.org or graham@taosavalanchecenter.org

Sorry gang, we don't have an avalanche beacon problem set up this week (yet) but will keep you posted as soon as we do.

recent observations

This morning we will let media tell the story; Check out Andy's VIDEO. Wednesday was a great day in the backcountry observing North wind transporting snow, forming small isolated wind slabs.  On Wed a regular observer noticed a natural wind slab avalanche on a NW face behind Lake Fork peak, which he surmised was a normally thin spot, now loaded from East winds at the ridgetops.

pic; W face near 12,000 wed, showing stiffening of snow surface due to North winds

 

 

 

 
CURRENT CONDITIONS Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 22.6 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 28 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: NE - W
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 19 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 38 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 98.4 inches
weather

Today will be a day in between storm systems as a weak upper level ridge moves through. A strong and cold storm system is expected to bring showers and higher elevation snow showers to much of central and northern New Mexico Friday and Saturday. Significant mountain snow will favor the northern Sangre de Cristo mountains, northeast highlands and plains Friday night and Saturday. Strong winds will accompany this system with high winds possible. The associated cold front will drop temperatures to below average levels for the weekend. Dry and warmer weather returns early next week.

Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
  Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny with increasing afternoon clouds. Partly Cloudy. Slight chance of snow flurries Partly cloudy with snow showers likely.
Temperatures: high to 39 deg. F. low to 22 deg. F. high to 32 deg. F.
Wind direction: W SW SW
Wind speed: 5-15 5-20 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.1-0.2 in. 1-2 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
  Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny with increasing afternoon clouds. Partly Cloudy with a chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy with snow showers likely.
Temperatures: high to 35 deg. F. low to 22 deg. F. high 29 deg. F.
Wind direction: W SW SW
Wind speed: 5-15 15-25 10-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.1-0.2 in. 1-3 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.