THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 7, 2018 @ 5:42 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 6, 2018 @ 5:42 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

Avalanche danger continues to be LOW at all elevations.  Use normal caution while traveling in the backcountry today.  Watch for areas of deeper snow above 11,000' on northerly aspects, where it's still possible to find firm surface slabs resting on top of weak faceted snow.  

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 do not have enough snow to avalanche. Use normal caution and safe travel protocols when traveling in the backcountry.  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 from previous wind events have formed atop weak, faceted snow.  These slabs are found in pockets of deeper snow and could produce only a small avalanche at this time.  With new snow on the way, avalanche danger for tomorrow could rise.  

advisory discussion

Our snowpack is thin, highly variable and wind affected in the New Mexico's Sangre de Cristos.  Unfortunately this makes for poor (or nonexistant) backcountry skiing and riding conditions.  Snow continues to exist on higher elevation northerly slopes, though other aspects are back to bare ground or patches of snow.  The last two weeks of high pressure have continued to allow our shallow snowpack to facet out.  Though we have a very weak snowpack, we lack continuous cohessive slabs over weak faceted snow.  We'll continue to be in LOW avalanche danger until we get more snow to cap these weak layers, which may happen tonight.  If you find yourself traveling in the backcountry, be wary of areas of deeper snow where you find strong over weak layers.  Although unlikely to trigger an avalanche, even a small avalanche will be painful with lots of ground hazards.

Finally, we are seeing a weeklong forecast with two believeable shots at snow.  Tonight 2-5 inches of snow are anticipated, which look as they will be arriving with moderate to strong winds out of the west.  With winds like that, it's likely we'll see the affects of wind during the storm, including windslab development.  The expected new snow will be falling on a variety of surfaces, including facets, bare ground, and preexisting wind slab.  Avalanche danger could rise for tomorrow if the upper end of the storm totals in the forecast verify or if the storm over-delivers.  With another storm on the way for the middle of next week, its beginning to look like winter is finally ready to start.  Let's just hope that by the end of the week we find ourselves with enough snow to travel with skis on in the backcountry!

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

Weather and CURRENT CONDITIONS
weather summary

Mild, partly cloudy weather and light to moderate west winds will continue today, with overnight temperatures below freezing.  Overnight, accumulations of 2-5" of snow is forecasted after midninght tonight, with another possible inch of snow in the forecast for tomorrow morning.  The storm looks to clear by Sunday afternoon, and another shot at snow remains in the forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday, though the details are a bit unclear at this point. 

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 23.5 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 40 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: W
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 10.2 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 28 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 5.8 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Mostly Cloudy. Chance of snow showers in the evening then snow showers likely after midnight Mostly Cloudy with chance of snow showers in the morning then most sunny in the afternoon
Temperatures: 43-48 deg. F. 25 deg. F. 38 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W NW
Wind Speed: 5-20 5-25 5-15
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.2-3.0 in. 0.2-0.6 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Saturday Saturday Night Sunday
Weather: Mostly Cloudy Mostly Cloudy. Chance of snow showers in the evening then snow showers likely after midnight Mostly Cloudy with of snow showers in the morning, then mostly sunny in the afternoon
Temperatures: 33-40 deg. F. 18-23 deg. F. 36-42 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W W NW
Wind Speed: 5-20 10-30 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.2-4.7 in. 0.2-0.6 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.