“Today is not the day to go for a look in Tuckerman Ravine, Huntington Ravine or the Gulf of Slides” Mount Washington Avalanche Center

Heads up if you’re thinking of heading into the White Mountains backcountry as the Mount Washington Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche danger warning in the area. While east coast avalanches are rare, one happened recently near Stowe, Vermont and should serve as reminder that slides can and will happen east of the Mississippi. Here’s the daily brief from MWAC:

Mount Washington Avalanche Center

Avalanche conditions are still dangerous. Large, destructive avalanches could occur above 3000 feet in elevation where the wind has formed deep drifts of new snow. The most likely place to encounter one of these dangerous avalanches is on steep east-facing and south-facing slopes such as Tuckerman Ravine, Gulf of Slides, and the Summer Lion Head Hiking Trail. Long, shooting cracks under your feet, collapses in the snowpack from your weight, and the added weight of warm, sunny conditions are all signs that conditions are dangerous.

Large wind slabs from recent storm snow will be easy to find across east-facing and south-facing terrain. Triggering one of these slabs could lead to a highly destructive avalanche with the ability to snap mature trees and bury multiple people. Expect these slabs to be very thick (multiple feet), stiff on the surface, and harbor multiple weak layers underneath. Traveling on these slabs could give a false sense of stability until it is too late. Today’s hard slabs could be triggered easily from an area of softer and protected snow, or from an invisible thin spot in the snowpack. Naturally occuring avalanches will be increasingly likely through the day as warm temperatures and sunshine affect the surface of the snow.


Conservative route finding, decision making, and terrain management are critical for safe travel around avalanche terrain today. After a large natural avalanche cycle during the storm this weekend, the primary avalanche concern is around steep slopes that did not avalanche naturally and areas where new wind slabs have rebuilt on top of areas that have already avalanched.

Traveling in the mountains on skis today could be tempting given the recent snow, the increase in the size of snow slopes, and the beautiful weather. Don’t underestimate the continued elevated avalanche danger or the destructive capability of triggering an avalanche today.  Some of the area’s most popular terrain also happen to be areas with the greatest potential for large avalanches. This includes but isn’t limited to the Sluice and Lip areas of Tuckerman Ravine, the Gulf of Slides, and the Summer Lion Head hiking trail. At all times today, consider the consequence of a large avalanche occurring where you are and use that as a tool to help make conservative terrain choices. 


Yesterday: Sky conditions in the Presidential Range were sunny throughout the day. The Mount Washington Summit recorded a high temperature of 18 degrees F by midnight as temperatures rose throughout the day. Winds at the higher summits were out of the northwest starting at speeds of 70 – 80 mph and decreasing to 20 – 30 mph. 

Today: Mostly clear sky conditions are forecast to continue today across the Presidential Range. Temperatures are forecast to rise to 30 degrees F at the Mount Washington Summit and be similar across ravine-level elevations. Winds on the higher summits are forecast to shift to the southeast at speeds of 5 – 20 mph and increase to 15 – 30 mph late in the afternoon.

Tomorrow: An incoming front is forecast to bring cloud cover, warmer temperatures, mixed precipitation, and rain to the area. Temperatures at upper elevations are forecast to rise into the high 30s F. Winds at the higher summits are forecast to be from the southeast and increasing to 45 – 60 mph during the day. Mixed precipitation and rain is likely, especially later in the day, transitioning over to only rain overnight. 

Mountain weather can change quickly.  Be sure to check the Mount Washington Observatory Higher Summits Forecast and the NWS Mount Washington Forecast before heading into the mountains.

Here’s video from natural avalanche in Tuckerman Ravine that was triggered between 3/19 & 3/20. Be safe out there folks:

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