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Avalanche Risk Along Some Northeast Mountains

14 Mar 2018, 10:48 pm

After feet and feet of snow from back-to-back-to-back nor’easters, parts of the Northeast have avalanche dangers. In fact avalanches have been reported at some area mountains, which is more of a rare case for the less-steep and tree-filled mountains of New England. That said, we interviewed Matthew Clay, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont for a local perspective of the avalanche danger there.

WeatherNation Question: How have the recent storms increased the avalanche danger?

Clay – NWS Burlington: “What we’re looking at right now is the fact that we had several melts and refreeze events which have left the slopes pretty icy. With this last event, we’re looking at 20-30 inches at higher elevations and this heavy, wet snow adheres to the ice at first but when it gets too heavy, these slabs of snow begin to fall off the mountains.”

Q: How rare is this?

A: “We don’t have specific numbers but this only happens a handful of times. Usually you need a slope of 30 to 45 degrees in order to trigger an avalanche, but many  mountains aren’t that steep here, plus Vermont’s Green Mountains have a lot of trees and that anchors the snow. So that acts to anchor the snow and prevent the slabs from falling and since we’ve had the avalanches it makes it a little more rare.”

Q: What are you telling folks to watch out for?

A: “We’re really urging people that if you’re going to go out go out in pairs or bigger groups just in case something happens. Try to stick to the trails because they avoid the steepest areas and you’ll find more stable terrain.”

Q: What areas are you most concerned about?

A: “We’ve had mutlpiple reports of avalanches at Smugglers’ Notch so that’s the area we’ve heard about but also the northern Adirondacks and Green Mountains.”

For WeatherNation, Meteorologist Steve Glazier