Avalanche Advisory published on January 1, 2018 @ 6:23 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger is LOW today at all elevations.  Snow is confined to north aspects above 11,000'.  If traveling in this terrain be aware of small isolated wind slabs on top of weaker snow.  Normal caution while traveling in the backcountry is advised.  

1. Low


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

1. Low


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 ?
    Very Likely
  • Size ?
    Very Large

Triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, and avalanche danger will not increase until we get more snow.  Most slopes are not holding enough snow to avalanche, and snow coverage is confined to north facing slopes above 11,000'.  Any potential avalanche hazard would be found on northwest through northeast aspects, where isolated surface slabs have been formed atop weak faceted snow.  Most of these slabs are not continuous and could produce only a small avalanche.

advisory discussion

Happy New Year! Though the year has changed overnight, the generally safe avalanche conditions have not.  Avoiding avalanches today is easy, as most slopes are back to bare ground or non-continuous patches of snow.  Any avalanche danger that does exist can be found on higher elevation northwest through northeast slopes, where slabs of harder, wind blown snow exist in pockets below ridgelines and in cross loaded gullies.  In many places, these slabs sit atop weak sugary snow near the ground.  If you find this slab/weak layer combination, the potential is there for a small surface slab to step down into deeper weaker layers.  Any avalanche would be small, but with limited snow coverage lots of ground hazards still exist.   Avalanche danger will continue to be LOW until we get a storm that produces enough snow for cohesive slabs to cap our weak snowpack on north aspects.  

Will the 2018 portion of the 2017/2018 winter be as bleak as the the start to the winter has been?  In the last month, below average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific show that La Nina conditions have strengthened.  Unfortunately for us, that means we can expect higher than average temperatures and lower than average precipitation rates for the next few months.  That being said, a much hoped for weather pattern shift that is still forecasted for next weekend, and could at least improve our snow situation for a week or two follow.   All of these predictions are still a ways out, so who knows what will actually become of them.  In the meantime, welcome to 2018 and heres to at least hoping its a snowy one! 


If you find yourself traveling elsewhere in search of powder, be sure to check out the local avalanche advisory on

recent observations

Here's a look at our current snow coverage from Wheeler Peak.  NW through NE slopes above 11,000' are still holding snow, especially in places of previous windloading.

Photo 1:  Williams Lake area 12/31/17

Photo 2:  La Cal Basin 12/31/17



weather summary

High pressure continues today, with partly cloudy skies, light to moderate west wind, and temperatures in the upper 30's/low 40's.  Similar conditions look to remain in place until next weekend, but at that point things could finally change.  As of now, the GFS, Canadian, and ECWMF models are all still in agreement of a weather pattern change for next weekend that could make for a snowy second and third week in January.  With many days until the anticipated shift, we'll just have to wait and see, but its better than nothing.    

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 19 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 32 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 17 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 21 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 7.8 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 Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 41 deg. F. 19 deg. F. 38 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W NW
Wind Speed: 5-10 5-15 5-150
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 26-34 deg. F. 15-20 deg. F. 25-32 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W NW NW
Wind Speed: 5-15 5-15 5-15
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.

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.