Forecaster Blogs

Blog: The Scorpion and the Frog - Jan 20, 2018 - Hardesty
A piece of fiction: I was touring up in Mineral Fork of Big Cottonwood yesterday.  Never liked it in there - spooky, full of ghosts.  Always feel claustrophobic.  Know the parable of the scorpion and the frog? The persistent slab and I talked for a bit on the uptrack.  I found ECTX and XPST-60/90.  "It's ok, come on into my terrain," she said.   "But I don't trust you, I don't like it."  Indeed the powder looked good in Moonlight.    "No, really, " she beckoned - "it's ok, come on in." I hesitated.  Then dropped in.  And the slope shattered like a windowpane.  "But I thought you said...." "...


Blog: UAC Podcast - Avalanche Mitigation Over Open Roads with Bill Nalli, UDOT Avalanche Program Supervisor - Jan 18, 2018 - Hardesty
    In this episode, we talk with Bill Nalli, Utah Department of Transportation Avalanche Program supervisor. Bill explains the scope of his job and how his teams across the state keep the Greatest Snow on Earth from avalanching over the open roads. Topics discussed: managing avalanche potential in Little Cottonwood Canyon; avalanche mitigation tools (105mm Howitzers) from WWII to the Wasatch backcountry; Avalanche Hazard Index; avalanche problems across Utah; precarious existence and importance of artillery as an avalanche tool; Craig Patterson; the challenge of managing more and more...


Blog: Week in Review (Jan 12 - Jan 18) - Jan 16, 2018 - Greg Gagne
Week in Review for Friday Jan 12 through Thursday Jan 18 Progression of danger roses and overall hazard rating for Salt Lake Mountains from 1/12 - 1/18. (Click on the day of the week for the archived forecast for that day.) Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday HIGH Considerable Considerable Considerable Moderate Moderate Moderate Summary - Storm and wind-drifted snow late last week overloaded a weak pre-existing snowpack. Large, dangerous avalanches - natural and...


Blog: Week in Review (Jan 5 - Jan 11) - Jan 11, 2018 - Gagne/Hardesty
Week in Review for Friday Jan 5 through Thursday Jan 11 Progression of danger roses and overall hazard rating from 1/5 - 1/11. (Click on the day of the week for the archived forecast for that day.) Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Low Low Considerable Moderate Considerable HIGH HIGH Summary - Storms overloaded a weak, unstable snowpack leading to elevated hazard and dangerous avalanche conditions by midweek. Storm and water totals for the week varied widely, this included up to 2' (with nearly 3" of water) in the Cottonwoods, and 15" (1.5") along the Park City...


Blog: Week in Review (Dec 29 - Jan 4) - Jan 4, 2018 - Hardesty/Gagne
  Progression of danger roses and overall hazard rating from 12/29 - 1/4. (Click on the day of the week for the archived forecast for that day.)   Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday     Considerable Considerable Considerable Considerable Moderate Moderate Moderate Friday December 29: A skier-triggered avalanche occurred in Dry Fork. This avalanche was 2.5' deep and 100' wide, running 400' vertical. It was a persistent slab avalanche, failing in faceted snow that formed during the earlier part of the winter. Trent produced the...


Blog: UAC Podcast - Avalanche Weather - A Conversation with Professor Powder, Jim Steenburgh - Jan 3, 2018 - Hardesty
  In this podcast, we chat with Professor Powder, Jim Steenburgh. Jim is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. An avid backcountry skier and creator of the popular blog Wasatch Weather Weenies, he is a leading authority on mountain weather and snowstorms and author of the book Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth. Discussed in the podcast: The weather triangle of precipitation, wind, and temperature/solar radiation; weather is the architect of the snowpack; seasonal variations in weather patterns; local effects that impact Wasatch winter storms; "atmospheric rivers...


Blog: Week in Review (Dec 22-28) - Dec 29, 2017 - Greg Gagne/Drew Hardesty
Week in Review (12/22 - 12/28) Progression of danger roses and overall hazard rating from 12/22 - 12/28. (Click on the day of the week for the archived forecast for that day.)   Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday     Moderate Considerable Considerable HIGH HIGH Considerable Considerable Summary: This past week was punctuated by snow and wind which quickly overloaded the weak faceted snow that formed...


Blog: Week in Review (Dec 16-22) - Dec 22, 2017
Week in Review - December 16 - 22, 2017 Before proceeding with the week in review, it is first worth quickly reviewing the season thus far. This Autumn was characterized by a handful of small storms sandwiched between extended periods of high pressure with cold, clear weather that created a very weak and shallow snowpack comprising loose, sugary (“faceted”) crystals. This is a very dangerous setup for avalanches once there is enough of a load on top. In the central Wasatch there is currently about 2-3' in upper elevation shady aspects. Southerly aspects were bare ground...


Blog: UAC Podcast - The Day of Madness in Little Cottonwood Canyon - Dec 20, 2017 - Hardesty
  On the inaugural episode of the Utah Avalanche Center podcast, UAC forecaster Drew Hardesty and Alta Snow Safety Director Dave Richards revisit the fateful events of November 13, 2011, the Day of Madness in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was an early-season powder day in the Wasatch before the ski resorts had opened, and people's lust for epic snow encountered the dangerous realities of Considerable avalanche danger. Unfortunately, the day ended in tragedy. Eighteen unintentional avalanches were triggered. Six people were caught in separate avalanches. A yard-sale worth of gear was lost. One...


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