The Avalanche Danger is MODERATE on steep, mid and upper elevation slopes facing west through north through east, for triggering a 2-foot deep slab avalanche failing on weak faceted snow grains. Loose sluffs and sensitive wind drifts can also be triggered on steep slopes, with wet loose sluffs becoming an issue on sunny slopes with daytime heating.
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A mild northwest flow will continue over the area through Friday. Mostly clear skies this morning, with increasing clouds this afternoon. Temperatures will warm to near 40 at 9,000’. The westerly winds will average 5 to 15 mph at the mid elevations, with the high peaks reaching averages of 25 to 35 mph at times, with gusts in the 40s. The next chance for a few inches of snow is Saturday.
Decent size dry loose sluffs were the only activity mentioned in the few backcountry reports.
Sluffs in Cardiff Fork. Mark White photo
While it’s been over a week since a slide was triggered on one of the buried faceted layers, the additional weight of ½ to ¾ of an inch of water in the recent snow could be just enough to make these layers more sensitive again.
By avoiding steep northwest through easterly facing slopes, especially where wind drifted, you can avoid triggering one of these slides. Shallower snowpack areas are particularly suspect – such as rocky rollovers and the Park City and Millcreek ridgelines and drainages.
The westerly winds now have some snow to work with, so expect to find soft wind drifts along the ridgelines, most widespread on slopes with an easterly aspect. Avoid steep slopes with wind drifts, which often look smooth and rounded, or are on slopes below small, new cornices.
Loose Dry Sluffs
Dry loose sluffs can be triggered on steep slopes of all aspects, but will be largest on shady, upper elevation slopes. They are just hefty enough to knock you off your feet and take you for a ride.
Loose Wet Sluffs
Direct sun and warming temperatures will quickly heat the snow on the sunny slopes today. Wet loose sluffs will be easily triggered, and run further than expected on the hard ice crusts beneath. A few natural wet sluffs are possible.
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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.