THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 17, 2018 @ 5:14 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 16, 2018 @ 5:14 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

LOW avalanche danger exists at all elevations.  Human triggered avalanches are unlikely but not impossible.  Areas of unstable snow can be found on higher elevation north aspects where you find a poor snowpack structure of slab/weak layer combinations. Evaluate the terrain and snowpack while traveling in the backcountry to identify where these isolated areas of unstable snow may still exist.  

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: 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 has a poor snowpack structure, basically strong over weak.  Any instability that could be encountered today will be found in these places. Avoid steep slopes where you find a supportable slab. Pay attention to obvious signs of instability like shooting cracks, collapses, or whumphing sounds as these are indications that you've found persistent slab instability. 

advisory discussion

It's been four days since our last triggered avalanche.  With our snowpack having time to adjust to the small amount of weight that was added from last Wednesday's storm, we've seen signs of instability like shooting cracks and collapsing becoming less prevalent.  Any avalanche danger today is manageable and focused on higher elevation north to east aspects where you find a deeper snowpack.  It's in these places that we are typically finding poor snowpack structure of strong over weak. Any avalanche triggered would be small, but has the potential to step down into older layers near the ground creating a potentially larger more destructive avalanche with all our ground hazards. Slopes near treeline and below are in need of more snow before they can be of concern. 

 

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 Crown  1/12

Photos 2: Lake Fork Crown profile 1/12

 

 

 

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

A dreary start to the day, with fog, freezing rain and couple of snowflakes before giving way to sunshine in the afternoon.  The rest of the work week is looking dry and mild with the possibility of a potential storm this weekend.  

 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 13.5 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 27.7 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: 30 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.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Areas of freezing fog in the morning. Partly cloudy with areas of light freezing drizzle and slight chance of snow in the morning, then mostly sunny in the afternoon. Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 30-35 deg. F. 16 deg. F. 40 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W N
Wind Speed: Up to 5 5-10 Up to 5
Expected snowfall: 0.1-0.2 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Areas of freezing fog in the morning. Partly cloudy with areas of light freezing drizzle and slight chance of snow in the morning, then mostly sunny in the afternoon. Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 21-26 deg. F. 15 deg. F. 28-34 deg. F.
Wind Direction: NW NW NW
Wind Speed: 5-10 5-10 Up to 5
Expected snowfall: 0.1-0.2 in. 0 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.