Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Provo Area Mountains Issued by Evelyn Lees for Thursday - March 23, 2017 - 7:09am
bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today for triggering wet loose sluffs on steep slopes of all aspects and elevations. Slides triggered in the newest snow will turn into wet sluffs as they travel downhill. Gullies and couloirs of all aspects have the potential to produce the largest avalanches and debris piles, and should be avoided today.

Lower angle slopes at the upper elevations should have great turning and riding conditions in the new dense soft snow.




special announcement

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Be sure to check out the last installment of the The Little Things - habits that might keep you alive, a four part series of tricks and tidbits to help keep you on top picked up by one of our observers during years of mostly incident-free wandering in the backcountry by ski, foot, and boat.

current conditions

It’s raining hard in the valley, but it’s a welcome return to winter in the mountains with light to moderate snow falling. Temperatures have finally cooled into the 20s at the mid and upper elevations, and the rain/snow line dropped to below 6,500’. So far, snow numbers of the creamy, dense, track filling snow aren’t too impressive, but more is on the way…

Storm totals, with water amounts from both rain and snow; yesterday’s rain/snow line as high as 9500’:

  • Salt Lake and Park City mountains: 4 to 7” snow, up to 1 1/3” of water
  • Ogden area mountains: 2 to 3” snow, up to .98” water
  • Provo area mountains: 1 to 3” snow, up to .90” water

Winds in the Provo area mountains have been a bit stronger than most areas - from the southwest, averaging 20 to 25 mph, with gusts in the 30s at times.

recent activity

Very small wet, loose sluffs were easily triggered in yesterday’s few inches of damp snow, including a small natural wet loose sluff. On Tuesday, with explosives, a Cottonwood resort released a wet sluff that broke to the ground, on a northeast-facing slope at 10,000’, over 2 feet deep.

Andy Nassetta photo, natural wet loose sluff of the newest snow, from Grizzly Gulch yesterday.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Wet snow is spooky and unpredictable. There has been no meaningful refreeze of the snowpack for over a week, and while the air temperatures are dropping, the old snow will take time to cool. It’s still warm and wet, especially as many locations had rain to 9,500’ yesterday.

Wet loose sluffs can be triggered today on steep slopes of all aspects and elevations. Expect most new snow avalanches triggered in the dry new snow at the higher elevations to turn into wet loose sluffs as they move downhill. Slides today have the potential to create sizable debris piles of heavy, dense snow.

Best bet is to enjoy the new soft snow on lower angle slopes today, and use small test slopes to determine how easily the new snow sluffs before getting on steeper slopes.

Avalanche Problem 2
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

The winds have been from the southwest, and are forecast to shift to the northwest this afternoon and increase. Sensitive drifts will build through out the day at the higher elevations.

Avalanche Problem 3
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Glide cracks have opened through out the range, from Ogden south through Provo. They are most common where there are smooth rock slabs or grass beneath the snow. Try to avoid travel below these cracks, and stay out of their run out zones. Common locations include Broads Fork, Stairs Gulch and Mill B South in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Raymond Slabs.

Cornices: Below is a Jackson Bodtker photo from Timpanogos a few days ago. Note the cracks of a failing cornice - they will be hidden beneath the new snow today, and harder to identify. Avoidance is key – don’t travel beneath cornices and stay well back from the edges. Cornices tend to break well back onto what looks like flat terrain.

weather

The storm slowly moving east has the potential to drop an additional 4 to 8 inches of snow today, with snow densities decreasing as temperatures drop throughout the day. This morning’s very light and variable winds will become steady from the northwest this afternoon and increase. By evening, average speeds of 20 mph, with gusts to 25 are possible, with the highest peaks averaging 30 mph.

Cloudy and cool tonight, with temperatures in the 20s. After a break on Friday, another storm is on deck for Saturday.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911.  Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

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DAWN PATROL Hotline updated daily by 5-530am - 888-999-4019 option 8.

TWITTER Updates for your mobile phone - DETAILS

UDOT canyon closures:  LINK TO UDOT, or on Twitter, follow @UDOTavy, @CanyonAlerts or @AltaCentral

Utah Avalanche Center mobile app - Get your advisory on your iPhone along with great navigation and rescue tools.

Powderbird Helicopter Skiing - Blog/itinerary for the day  

Lost or Found something in the backcountry? - http://nolofo.com/

Ski Utah mobile snow updates

To those skinning uphill at resorts:  it is critical to know the resort policy on uphill travel.  You can see the uphill travel policy for each resort here

Benefit the Utah Avalanche Center when you shop from Backcountry.com or REI:  Click this link for Backcountry.com or this link to REI, shop, and they will donate a percent of your purchase price to the UAC.  Both offer free shipping (with some conditions) so this costs you nothing!

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done.  This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.