THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 19, 2018 @ 5:45 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 18, 2018 @ 5:45 am
Issued by Andy Bond - Taos Avalanche Center

The avalanche danger continues to remain LOW. Triggering an avalanche today 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

Generally safe avalanche conditions exist.  Although unlikely to trigger an avalanche today, unlikely does not mean impossible.  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

It's been a disappointing or non existent season so far, leaving us with a very weak, thin and variable snowpack for the middle of January.  With the potential of a storm this weekend, hopefully we'll be able to turn the corner and get enough snow that's suitable to start to recreate on.  If you find yourself out for a walk during this warm sunny weather, it's a good idea to take a photo or mental picture as to where the existing snow is currently at.  Most of the new snow this weekend will be falling on bare ground, which won't be much of a concern.  Any uptick in avalanche hazard will be where the new snow falls on the old stressing some of our buried weak layers or creating a cohesive slab capping our mostly faceted snowpack.  

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. Slopes near treeline and below are in need of more snow before they can be of concern. 

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

Another cold morning will quickly give way to unseasonable warm temperatures.  It should be a glorious day for getting out for a hike or a bike ride.  We'll have one more day of warm and sunny weather, before a much needed shot at moisture arrives on Saturday.  After this season it's hard to put too much trust with forecasted snowfall amounts, but we could see 3 to 8 inches with this storm and strong winds by Sunday.  We'll take anything we can get at this point.  

 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 23.8 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 32 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: NW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 8 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 22 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.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 41-46 deg. F. 21-26 deg. F. 47-52 deg. F.
Wind Direction: NW W W
Wind Speed: 5-10 5-10 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Thursday Thursday Night Friday
Weather: Sunny Mostly Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 33-38 deg. F. 22 deg. F. 37-43 deg. F.
Wind Direction: NW W W
Wind Speed: 5-10 5-15 5-20
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.