THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 16, 2018 @ 5:34 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 15, 2018 @ 5:34 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger is LOW at all elevations today.  Human triggered avalanches are unlikely, though any avalanche danger that does exist can be found on isolated steep, north facing slopes above treeline where there is persistent slab instability.  Near and below treeline, we still lack the snow coverage to warrant concern for avalanches.  

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

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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: Persistent Slab
  • Type ?
  • Aspect/Elevation ?
  • Likelihood ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Though generally safe avalanche conditions exist, watch for unstable snow on isolated steep slopes above treeline on north to east aspects, including cross-loaded gullies, concave bowls, and beneath ridgelines.  These are the places holding the most snow right now, and the snowpack in these areas is very weak in structure.  Any instability that could be encountered today will be found in these places.  Shooting cracks, collapses, or whumphing sounds are indications that you've found persistent slab instability. 

advisory discussion

It is unlikely that you will trigger an avalanche today, but on the isolated slopes that hold our deepest snowpack, it is not impossible.  The slopes to look out for today are steep, north through east facing slopes above treeline where the snow looks deep enough to make a couple turns.  In these places the snowpack has a very weak structure, with slab/weak layer combinations over a layer of depth hoar.  Several days have passed since weight was added to the snowpack by last Wednesday night's snow and the wind loading from the winds that followed.  Though our weak snowpack was stressed by this incremental loading, over time the snowpack has adjusted to the new weight and we are no longer seeing the cracking and collapsing that we were a few days ago.  That being said, being caught or carried in any avalanche with this many ground hazards present would be bad news.  

Slopes near treeline and below are in need of more snow before they can be of concern.  The little bit of snow expected for tonight will not change this situation or raise the avalanche danger if the forecast verifies, however we could be looking at a storm this weekend.  Though we won't know the details for several more days, models are in agreement so far that a storm is heading our way Friday.  Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the warming temperatures throughout the week in the meantime.   

If you find yourself leaving town to remember what ski touring is,  be sure to check out backcountry conditions on Avalanche.org 

recent observations

North aspects above treeline, in places where new snow sits on top of previously windloaded slopes, are the the slopes with the deepest snowpack, and also the ones with the most instability.  The snowpack in these places is highly variable, though they share the common theme of having a very weak structure.  Here's a look at a couple of different slab/weak layer combinations found on these types of slopes in the last few days:

Photo 1: Lake Fork 1/12

Photos 2: Lake Fork snowpit profile 1/12

Photo 3: La Cal Basin snowpit profile 1/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Tomorrow sunshine and light winds will return, and temperatures are exected to warm throughout the week.  So far models are in agreement about a storm this weekend, with snow forecasted Friday night through Saturday, potentially lingering through Sunday.  We sure need it, so any news it good news, though we won't know details for several more days.  

 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 23 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 36 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: WSW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 13 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 26.3 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 8.2 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. Slight chance of snow in the afternoon Partly Cloudy. Slight chance of snow in the evening and then slight chance of snow after midnight Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 32-37 deg. F. 12 deg. F. 34 deg. F.
Wind Direction: SW SW W
Wind Speed: Up to 10 5-10 5
Expected snowfall: 0.1-0.2 in. 0.2-1.2 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Monday Monday Night Tuesday
Weather: Partly Cloudy. Slight chance of snow in the afternoon Partly Cloudy. Slight chance of snow Partly Cloudy in the morning then clearing
Temperatures: 24-29 deg. F. 11 deg. F. 21-27 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W SW W
Wind Speed: 5-10 5-10 5-10
Expected snowfall: 0.1-0.2 in. 0.5-1.4 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.