THIS AVALANCHE ADVISORY EXPIRED ON January 10, 2018 @ 5:48 am
Avalanche Advisory published on January 9, 2018 @ 5:48 am
Issued by Hannah McGowan - Taos Avalanche Center

LOW avalanche danger exists at all elevations today.  Normal caution while traveling in the backcountry today is advised.  Be aware of areas of deeper snow above 11,000' on northerly aspects, where it's possible to find surface slabs atop 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

LOW danger continues today and triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, as most slopes continue to 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.  Avalanche danger will not increase until we recieve more snow, which may happen tomorrow! 

advisory discussion

Winter?  Is that you out there?  Though we were left disappointed after Saturday night's storm under performed (<1" instead of 3-5"! Are you kidding me?!) tonight into tomorrow's storm could actually bring some much needed snowfall to our mountains.  With warm temperatures, wind, and potentially 4-9" of snow by the time its all said and done, avalache hazard could finally rise above LOW.  

Despite the excitement, our snowpack is still thin, highly variable and wind affected in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristos.  Unfortunately this makes for poor (or nonexistent) 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 cohesive slabs over the weak faceted snow, throughout much of the forecasted area.  If you find yourself traveling in the backcountry, be wary of areas of deeper snow where you find strong over weak layers which will be found on northerly aspects near and above treeline.  Although unlikely to trigger an avalanche, even a small avalanche will be painful with lots of ground hazards.

The expected new snow will be falling on a variety of surfaces, including uncohesive facets slabs, and bare ground.  See most recent obs.  It's easy to get swept up by powder panic in times like these, with few and far between storms, but with a snowpack structure like ours it's important to stay level-headed and consider slopes guilty until proven innocent when selecting terrain.  I say that all with the large assumption and hope that this storm could actually give us some snow to travel upon.   

 

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

We might actually get some much needed precipitaton Tuesday night into Wednesday.  Models are currently showing the storm to be slower than in previous runs, and storm totals are forecasted to be 1-2" overnight and 3-7" tomorrow.  Temperatures associated with the incoming storm look to be not too far below freezing, and winds will ramp up quite a bit with the storm as well.  Let's keep fingers crossed that this one actually plays out in our favor!  In the meantime, today will feature above average temperatures and light to moderate winds.  

Weather observations from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness between 9000 ft. and 13000 ft.
0600 temperature: 28 deg. F.
Max. temperature in the last 24 hours: 43.2 deg. F.
Average wind direction during the last 24 hours: SW
Average wind speed during the last 24 hours: 17.6 mph
Maximum wind gust in the last 24 hours: 24 mph
New snowfall in the last 24 hours: 0 inches
Total snow depth: 7.9 inches
Two-Day Mountain Weather Forecast Produced in partnership with the Albuquerque NWS
For 9000 ft. to 10000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy. Scattered snow showers after midnight. Numerous snow showers
Temperatures: 48 deg. F. 30 deg. F. 37 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W SW SW
Wind Speed: 5-25 5-20 5-20
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.2-0.9 in. 0.9-4.5 in.
For 11000 ft. to 13000 ft.
Tuesday Tuesday Night Wednesday
Weather: Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy. Scattered snow showers after midnight Numerous snow showers
Temperatures: 36-42 deg. F. 24 deg. F. 26-31 deg. F.
Wind Direction: W SW W
Wind Speed: 10-25 10-25 15-30
Expected snowfall: 0 in. 0.2-1.2 in. 2.0-6.9 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.