THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 3, 2018 @ 5:35 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 2, 2018 @ 5:35 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger is LOW today at all elevations.  Discontinuous snow exists on 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 ?
    Certain
    Very Likely
    Likely
    Possible
    Unlikely
  • Size ?
    Historic
    Very Large
    Large
    Small

Triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, as most slopes are not holding enough snow to avalanche.  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.  These slabs are not continuous and could produce only a small avalanche.  Avalanche danger will not increase until we get more snow.  

advisory discussion

With the overwhelming lack of snow, avoiding avalanches today is simple.  Most slopes are back to bare ground or discontinuous patches of snow.  Any avalanche danger that does exist can be found above treeline on northwest through northeast slopes, where slabs of harder, wind blown snow exist in pockets below ridgelines and in gullies.  If you are able to stand on top of the snow's surface, or if you are punching through firm snow, then you have found one of these pockets.  For the most part, slabs in these places sit atop weak sugary snow near the ground.  Where this slab/weak layer combination exists, 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 can create cohesive slabs on top of our weak snowpack on north aspects.  

Unfortunately it's probably wise to keep our expectations low while wondering about snowfall for next few months.  In the last several weeks, below average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific show that La Nina conditions have strengthened.  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 is still forecasted to arrive over the weekend, and perhaps it will bring us a bit of relief from this seemingly endless dry spell.  All of these predictions are still a ways out, so who knows what will actually become of them.  In the meantime, I hope day two of the new year finds you still sticking to your resolutions, as well as enjoying your no-snow-required hobbies.

 

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

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 and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

High pressure's still here.  Today and tomorrow look to bring mostly sunny skies, light to moderate west/NW wind, and temperatures in the upper 30's/low 40's.  Similar conditions look to remain for several more days, but things could change after that.  As of now, models are all still in agreement of a weather pattern change arriving over the weekend, but the details of its effects are still unclear. With many days between now and the forecasted change, we'll just have to keep an eye on it.

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 16 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: 15.5 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 19 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: Mostly Sunny Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 34 deg. F. 13 deg. F. 42 deg. F.
Wind Direction: NW NW W
Wind Speed: 5-10 up to 10 up to 10
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0 in. 0 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Mostly Sunny Clear Mostly Sunny
Temperatures: 24-29 deg. F. 13 deg. F. 29-37 deg. F.
Wind Direction: NW NW W
Wind Speed: 5-15 5-10 5-15
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.