THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 18, 2018 @ 5:29 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 17, 2018 @ 5:29 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

The avalanche danger remains LOW. Triggering an avalanche remains unlikely.  Watch for areas of unstable snow that 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 from winds depositing snow from early season snow storms.  The snowpack in these areas has a poor snowpack structure, basically strong over weak where we have slabs resting over weak sugary faceted snow.  Any instability that could be encountered today will be found in these places.  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

Any avalanche danger today is manageable and focused on higher elevation north to east aspects where you find a deeper snowpack.  These pockets are obvious and contain the old and new snow.  It's in these places that we are typically finding poor snowpack structure of slabs over weak sugary depth hoar. Even though triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, it doesn't mean it's impossible. 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. 

There's not a whole lot of confidence with this weekend storm as right now we have a lot of factors working against us for any major snowfall amounts.  Hopefully we'll get something that enables to finally turn the corner here in the middle of January! If you find yourself leaving town,  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 wind loaded 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 poor 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

Plenty of sunshine today with warmer temperatures and calm winds.  We have a pretty good inversion with temperatures in towns in the single digits and mid mountain temperatures already in the 20's. Warm temperatures and lots of sunshine will be with us for the next couple of days.  There is some hope out there with a low pressure system moving in over the weekend.  Right now it looks like light snowfall, cold temperatures and lots of wind with the quick hitting storm Saturday night.  

 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 21.5 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 22.7 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: NW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 6 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 24 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 6.9 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Clear
Temperatures: 39 deg. F. 15=20 deg. F. 41-46 deg. F.
Wind Direction: N NW W
Wind Speed: 5-10 Up to 5 5-10
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Wednesday Wednesday Night Thursday
Weather: Sunny Mostly Clear Sunny
Temperatures: 26=33 deg. F. 16 deg. F. 33-38 deg. F.
Wind Direction: N N NW
Wind Speed: 5-10 5 5-10
Expected snowfall: 0 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.