April Flowers Bring May Showers...?

For anyone visiting Mount Washington this past week, the summit's infamous title as "Home of the World's Worst Weather" may have seemed like a joke.  In a location that observes fog for an average of 60% of the year, it was hard to believe that the entire first week of May saw clear skies and not a drop of precipitation.

But, all good things must come to an end, and the end of this month's dry stretch came yesterday evening, with the arrival of a low pressure system that brought cooler temperatures and over a half an inch of rain overnight.  The rain was in fact a welcome sight for many in the area, where the recent dry spell has contributed to several wildfires over the last week.  Though the rain ceased by this morning, webcam views from the Mount Washington Observatory and Bretton Woods Mountain Resort show lingering clouds just beginning to yield to the morning sun.

View from the Mount Washington Observatory 5.9.13 (Photo courtesy of Mount Washington Observatory)

View of the Presidential Range from the Top o'Quad Restaurant at Bretton Woods Mountain Resort 5.9.13 (Photo courtesy of Mount Washington Observatory) 

The big question this weekend will be how much the sun will be able to fight its way through the impending clouds.  According to the Mount Washington Observatory, the valley forecast is predicting a chance of showers or thunderstorms every day through the weekend.  As for how big of a chance, we will just have to wait and see.  But for those of you with trips already planned for this weekend, I wouldn't necessarily rush to change or cancel your plans.  If you're feeling lucky, you may want to take your chances.  The summits forecast for tomorrow is predicting fog with rain showers early, but a chance of clearing later in the afternoon.  (Seems like "chance" is going to be the catchphrase for the next few days!)  On the bright side (no pun intended!) the chancy forecast may scare away those faint of heart and leave you with the trails to yourself!  You don't want to be sitting at home on the couch when the sun starts peeking through the clouds up in the mountains!  And if you need some convincing to make use of iffy weather days to avoid crowds, just take a look at the photo below to get a feel for the "congo line" of visitors heading up into Tuckerman Ravine last weekend:

Tuckerman Ravine 5.4.13
The beautiful weather on Saturday saw a steady stream of skiers hitting the slopes, particularly on Left Gully and Hillman's Highway.  While the warm weather and rain won't help the snow cover, there's still enough to get in a couple last runs of the season, so hurry on over while you can!

Left Gully 5.4.13
For the full weather report, check the Mount Washington Observatory website (http://www.mountwashington.org/).  As always, recognize that mountain weather is subject to rapid changes and extreme conditions, so make sure to always travel with adequate clothing, shelter, food and water, especially with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast!

Tuckerman Ravine 5.4.13

If you are planning on visiting Tuckerman Ravine, whether on skis or on foot, also make sure to read through the Mount Washington Avalanche Center advisory for current conditions and hazard warnings (http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/).  A general avalanche advisory will be in effect for Tuckerman until complete melt out later the spring/summer, but there are several other springtime hazards of which you should be aware, such as falling ice, crevasses, waterfall holes and undermined snow.  You can see some of the open water features and ice slabs on the Headwall in the photo below.  The Lip area in particular has all of the hazards listed above and therefore is a "no fall zone," where the consequences of a slip at any point could be dire.  Travel in this area is not recommended.  Due to the extent of these dangers, on Friday the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers will be implementing the annual closure of the Lip to skiing and any other use as well as the section of the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden.  For those attempting to summit Mount Washington, the Lion Head summer trail will be the route of choice for accessing the peak from the east.

Ice and Crevasses on the Headwall 5.4.13

Ice Warning at PNVC 5.4.13

If you are looking for a shorter excursion, or to stay below treeline in the event of rain showers or thunderstorms, consider checking out some of the local waterfalls, many of which are raging this time of year due to the run-off from melting snow up above.  Crystal Cascade is just a 10-minute hike up the Tuckerman Ravine trail from the Visitor Center here at Pinkham Notch, and Glen Ellis falls is a spectacular 64-foot plunge located a short walk off of Route 16, just 0.8 miles down the road from the Visitor Center.

Crystal Cascade 5.4.2013
Speaking of roads, we are pleased to announce that the Zealand Falls Road and Gale River Loop Road are now open to vehicles, so if you are visiting Zealand Falls Hut or Galehead hut, you can now drive right up to the trailheads.  In addition to Zealand and Galehead, Carter Notch Hut, Mizpah Springs Hut, Greenleaf Hut, and Lonesome Lake Hut are operating on a caretaker basis until the start of the full-service huts season on June 1st.  If you're looking for a backcountry experience without the need to carry a tent or a camp stove (beds and pillows, but not blankets, as well as kitchen facilities, but not food, are provided during the self-service huts season) consider staying at one of our high huts.  For more information on the huts, what to bring, and what to expect, visit http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/whitemountains/huts/.  To check availability or book a stay at a high hut, or any other AMC facility, give our Reservations department a call at (603) 466-2727 Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, or go to www.outdoors.org/lodging/.

For other general inquiries, conditions information, or trail advice, contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org.

Happy trails!

Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
(603) 466-8116

Labels: , , , , ,