Forecaster Blogs

Blog: Week in Review (March 17-24) - 03/24/2017 - Gagne
The prolonged ridge of high pressure (aka the "Dylan Ridge") continued through the weekend of March 18/19 with breezy conditions ahead of a week system that produced a few mountain rain showers and a trace of graupel on Monday. Skies cleared somewhat later Tuesday, and Wednesday brought a warm, moist storm system that deposited up to 5" of dense graupel, with 20% density. The rain/snow line was above 9500' During this past week, many mountain locations maintained above freezing temperatures for well over a week. On Thursday a moist storm system arrived, bringing the first legitimate storm...


Blog: The Little Things (that might keep you alive) Part 4 - 03/22/2017 - Tom Diegel, Guest Blogger
“It’s long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle While the last week or two has felt an awful lot like spring, there is no doubt that we’ll be getting additional storms before the sun comes out in earnest.  Typically the snowpack gets more stable in the spring, but we’ll hopefully get enough snow that avalanche danger will again rear its head, and we’ll need to respond accordingly.  Along those lines, here is the last of The Little Things that might help to keep you safe in the backcountry. Communicate about the avy conditions...


Blog: Week in Review (Mar 10-17) - 03/17/2017 - Greg Gagne
Week in Review - Greg Gagne The past week has been highlighted by what hasn't happened, which is any resemblance of winter. The most dominant ridging pattern of the otherwise excellent 2016/17 winter season has placed a stranglehold on the Wasatch. High and low temperatures observed this week at Alta guard station at 8800' in Little Cottonwood Canyon: Saturday 3/11 46/28 Sunday 3/12 40/29 Monday 3/13 50/29 Tuesday 3/14 52/33 Wednesday 3/15 54/37 Thursday 3/16 51/34 As can be seen, it has been several days without below freezing temperatures. Other stations recorded much higher maximum and...


Blog: The Little Things - habits that might keep you alive Part 3 - 03/13/2017 - Tom Diegel, Guest Blogger
This installment of “The Little Things” associated with safety involves the most difficult component of skiing in avalanche terrain:  ourselves!  One thing that my partners and I like to do is maintain good backcountry habits; we do this to avoid getting surprised and to be prepared for that rare incident that can change your day from fun to terror.  Be sure to check out installments one and two.  And look for number four in a few days! Any pilot will tell you that following protocol is a good way to improve the odds of a safe journey, regardless of conditions.  Here are some of the habits we...


Blog: Week in Review (Mar 3 - 9) - 03/9/2017 - Greg Gagne
The weekend of March 4/5 was highlighted by increasingly strong winds, with upper elevation gusts over 70 mph at many mid and upper elevation stations. These winds were ahead of a vigorous cold front that hit the Wasatch mountains early Sunday evening, where some even heard the sound of a thunder as it roared out a warning of the approaching storm. For those that did not seek shelter from the storm, by Tuesday morning they would have found storm totals including 11-16” in the Ogden, Park City and Salt Lake mountains. (Significantly less snow fell in the Provo mountains where 2-3" was reported...


Blog: The Little Things that might keep you alive Part 2 - 03/9/2017 - Tom Diegel, Guest Blogger
Another installment in The Little Things that aren’t necessarily taught in avalanche classes.  These aren’t certified in any way by AAI or AIARE or any other formal avalanche program, and of course not guaranteed to save you, but as before, they might! Make sure to check out Part 1. This installment talks about the rest of your gear besides the beacon.  In no particular order: Shovel – if you don’t have a 3-piece/long-handled shovel, get one.  It is hard to overemphasize how hard digging through avalanche debris is, and the extra leverage of a longer handle means you move can that much more...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 24 - March 2) - 03/3/2017 - Greg Gagne
The snowfall from the 3-4' storm from the week of February 20 settled out by Saturday Feb 25 and treated backcountry skiers and riders with a weekend of deep, soft snow with generally stable conditions. Many steep lines were skied with the only concern of sluffing in the loose, dry snow. By later Sunday afternoon, wind speeds increased ahead of yet another storm that initially arrived on a southwest flow, but switched to northwest later on Monday. Heavy snowfall during the day on Monday led to a natural cycle during periods of intense precipitation. Light snow continued overnight on Monday,...


Blog: The Little Things (that might keep you alive) - 02/28/2017 - Tom Diegel, Guest Blogger
Backcountry skiing is time spent mostly – but fortunately not completely! – walking uphill. Daniel Kahnemannn, the grandfather of “heuristics” and Nobel laureate who probably has no idea how much he’s influenced avalanche safety, noted that walking generates just the right amount of blood flow to maximize thinking.  Lately I’ve been doing a lot of “thinking” about the many habits people practice, or don’t, to keep themselves safe in the backcountry. Avalanche Level 1 and 2 classes teach you a lot about snowpack and terrain, but they don’t always address The Little Things that experienced...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 17-24) - 02/24/2017 - Greg Gagne
Week in Review A series of weather systems on a southwest flow arrived over Friday through Sunday Feb 17/18/19 with storm totals of up to 24" in the Cottonwoods, 14" in the Park City mountains, 18" Ogden mountains, and 6" at the mid elevations in the Provo mountains. Storm densities were Cascade-like with water totals exceeding 2". Sunday was an especially active day with several skier-triggered avalanches reported from the backcountry. These slides included both storm snow as well as fresh wind slabs, and were running within the storm snow as well as a layer of faceted snow that formed Feb...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 10-16) - 02/17/2017 - Greg Gagne
Snowfall Friday and Saturday Feb 10/11 deposited 10-20" in the Salt Lake mountains with over 2" of water equivalent. Avalanche activity on Saturday included sensitive storm and wind slabs, as well as sluffing within the storm snow, with several human-triggered avalanches reported from the backcountry. Two notable natural avalanches in upper White Pine Canyon also occurred over the weekend. These were likely caused by natural cornice falls and triggered large storm slabs that failed on a layer of graupel down about 12-18". [Photos Hardesty/Pease] Fresh wind slabs from a period of easterly...


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