Forecaster Blogs

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...


Blog: Those Who Cannot Remember the Past... - Dec 20, 2017 - Hardesty
The Alta Guard station in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon has snow records from November through April since the 1944/1945 winter. The numbers can be found here.  Average annual snowfall is 497". Since 1944/1945, the Alta Guard has recorded 11 winters when the total snowfall from November and December did not crest the 100" mark.  1976/1977 easily stands out as the leanest early winter with a grand total of 30.5".  It's not lost on the Utah powder hounds that three of those sub-par early seasons have occurred since the winter of 2009/2010...


Blog: Avalanche Fatalities During Uphill Travel - Dec 16, 2017 - E Lees, C Raspollini, L George
  Background Years when the US averages 25 to 30 avalanche fatalities in a season, the particulars of each accident blur.  However, in the winter of 2016-2017, when there were 12 avalanche fatalities, some interesting details stood out.  One was the percentage of solo recreationists getting killed; the other was the relative number of people who were going uphill at the time of their accidents. The risk of backcountry incidents and fatalities while descending is well known, and is often a main focus of avalanche training and education. However, the risk while proceeding...


Blog: Practicing Companion Rescue - Dec 10, 2017 - Toby Weed
We need to practice Companion Rescue techniques often, and with all our backcountry partners.  With a persistent high pressure and shallow snow in the Utah mountains, now is a good time to do this.  You can practice anywhere. All you need is your gear, a partner or two, and enough snow to bury a pack.  For more information and to learn directly from the experts, go to our our Classes and Workshops page for listing of our Companion Rescue Fundamentals classes.....HERE


Blog: Adjusting to a Different Snowpack Climate - Nov 5, 2017 - Guest Blogger Tyler Falk
[This blog entry is provided by pro UAC observer Tyler Falk. Tyler presented this work at the Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop on November 4, and it is also scheduled for publication in the December issue of "Avalanche Review" which is published by the American Avalanche Association.] Adjusting to a Different Snowpack Climate The 2016/2017 winter season in the Salt Lake area mountains will be remembered by many to have felt overall warmer and wetter than normal. Some might even call it coastal, based on our weather and avalanche activity. I recently looked at all the available data on...
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Blog: Week in Review (April 8-14) - Apr 14, 2017 - Greg Gagne
Week in Review [April 8 - 14] A storm system entered the region this past weekend, with warm temperatures and a high rain/snow line on Saturday April 8th. A cold front with an ample moisture supply late Saturday night and well into the day on Sunday provided nearly 18-24" in the Cottonwoods and Ogden mountains, with 8-15" along the Park City ridgeline. The Provo mountains recorded 3-6". Limited avalanche activity was reported with this storm, with a few slides breaking at a graupel interface of the old snow surface, or within a density inversion within the storm snow: [Mark...


Blog: Week in Review (Mar 31 - Apr 7) - Apr 7, 2017 - Greg Gagne
On Thursday March 30 the central Wasatch received about 6" of storm snow. On Friday March 31, sun and greenhousing crusted all aspects and elevations, with the exception being northerly aspects above 10,500'. A round of significant wet activity occurred by mid-afternoon Friday:   Saturday brought a clear and warm day, and another round of loose, wet activity followed as the northeast winds began to relax.     On Sunday, a weak storm system deposited 1-4" at the upper elevations which improved riding conditions. Monday through Thursday was highlighted...


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