Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Uintas Area Mountains Issued by Craig Gordon for Thursday - January 19, 2017 - 3:25am
bottom line

In the wind zone, at and above treeline, pockets of MODERATE avalanche danger exist. While making up a small portion of the terrain available to ride in today, fresh wind slabs reactive to our additional weight are POSSIBLE on steep, wind drifted slopes, especially those on the leeward side of upper elevation ridges. Remember- any avalanche that breaks to weaker snow, now buried deep in the snowpack will get out of hand quickly, resulting in a dangerous slide.

Lose some elevation and you lose the problem. Wind sheltered mid and lower elevation terrain offers green light conditions and in general, a LOW avalanche danger.




special announcement

Tonight, Thursday 1/19 - Utah Adventure Journal hosts professional adventure skier Brody Leven as he presents on a recent trip to the remote Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan to attempt steep first descents on massive, remote peaks. More Details here.

current conditions

High clouds streamed into the region overnight, in advance of a quick moving storm slated to slide through the area later today. In the meantime, temperatures are in the mid to upper 20's and southwest winds bumped into the 20's and 30's along the high ridges early this morning. The sun is getting stronger and sun exposed aspects have taken on some heat and will be a bit funky today. But swing around to the north half of the compass and you'll find excellent riding and turning conditions on wind sheltered, shady slopes.

Getting out of the valley smog offers amazing views of the eastern front.

Remarkably PHAT... probably hasn't been this white for sometime. I'm thinking 1992/93 is the last time the Uinta's had similar coverage. Ted stomped around Mirror Lake Tuesday. Click here for his take on things.

Surface hoar... this fragile and notoriously tricky crystal (similar to dew that grows on our lawn) has formed on wind sheltered, shady slopes and it might become a dangerous player in our snowpack if it gets preserved and buried. Something to keep an eye on later this week as weather turns more stormy. A viddy explaining our current state of snowpack affairs is found here.

Additional snowpack observations and trip reports are found here.

Real time wind, snow, and temperatures for the Uinta's are found here

recent activity

No recent avalanche activity to report.

A full list of Uinta avalanche activity is found here.

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

In high alpine terrain above treeline, recent winds have probably found enough loose snow to whip into fresh drifts, sensitive to our additional weight. Found mostly near and along the leeward side of upper elevation ridges, I bet there's a pocket or two that formed around a terrain feature like a chute or gully wall. In any case, today's shallow slabs will predictably break at or below our skis, boards, or sleds.


In addition, cornices have grown large and may break back further than you might expect. Your best bet with these boxcar monsters is to give 'em lots of distance.

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 good news is... time, settlement, and snowpit tests all indicate the pack is healing and much of our terrain offers a deep, strong snowpack. However, the Uinta's are a big range and I'm not entirely convinced there isn't a rogue slope or two that's just waiting for us to come along and knock the legs out from underneath it. Remember- all we need to do is find a weaknesses in the slab, collapse that slope, and now we're staring down the barrel of an unmanageable avalanche. It doesn't mean you can't get after it. It does mean that if you're charging hard today, think about the consequences of triggering a slide. Have a solid game plan and exit strategy in place and make sure to communicate that with your partners.

Steep, unforgiving places like Bald Mountain, pictured above, is the kind of terrain where you could trigger a small avalanche that breaks into deeper buried weak layers as snow crashes down on the slope below.

weather

A Pacific storm system slowly crosses the area today bringing with it light snow and high temperatures in the low to mid 30's. South and southwest winds ramp up this morning with gusts in the 40's and 50's, before turning westerly and decreasing later in the day. This isn't a big storm, but should give us 3"-6" by Friday morning. Looks like the next system dives south for Saturday with a better shot of snow developing in our region for Monday and Tuesday.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please participate in the creation of our own community avalanche advisory by submitting snow and avalanche conditions.   You can call me directly at 801-231-2170, email craig@utahavalanchecenter.org

The information in this advisory is from the US Forest Service which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

The information in this advisory expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 7:00 AM on Friday January 20th.