Forecaster Blogs

Blog: The Little Things - habits that might keep you alive Part 3 - Mar 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...


Blog: Week in Review (Mar 3 - 9) - Mar 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"...


Blog: The Little Things that might keep you alive Part 2 - Mar 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...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 24 - March 2) - Mar 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...


Blog: The Little Things (that might keep you alive) - Feb 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...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 17-24) - Feb 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...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 10-16) - Feb 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...


Blog: Hindsight 20/40 - A Companion Piece to #NothingBadHappened - Feb 15, 2017 - Drew Hardesty
This is meant to be a companion piece to an earlier essay #NothingBadHappened (photo credit: Mark White) 20/40 Hindsight   All too often, we find ourselves unable to predict what will happen; yet after the fact we explain what did happen with a great deal of confidence. This “ability” to explain that which we cannot predict, even in the absence of additional information, represents an important, though subtle, flaw in our reasoning.  It leads us to believe that there is a less uncertain world than there actually is, and that we are less bright than we actually might be.  For if we can explain...


Blog: Week in Review (Feb 3-9) - Feb 10, 2017 - Greg Gagne
Week in Review 4-6” of snowfall fell in the Cottonwoods and Park City mountains from Thursday Feb 2 through Saturday Feb 4, with some favored locations along the Park City ridgeline receiving upwards of 8”. Persistent winds also resulted in isolated human-triggered wind slabs releasing in upper elevations over the weekend. [Mark White photo] Monday marked the beginning of a period of warm and very windy conditions with heavy, wet snowfall and a rain/snow line reaching 8000'. Snow and water totals by Wednesday included: Salt Lake area mountains 6-8" snow with 1...


Blog: Week in Review - Feb 4, 2017 - Greg Gagne
Friday January 27 was a stunning bright and bluebird day, with several feet of fresh snow that had fallen the prior eight days. However, six human triggered avalanches were reported that day, primarily in the Park City mountains as well as Lambs Canyon and Summit Park in Parleys Canyon. These occurred in elevations ranging from 7600’ - 9400’ and on northwest through southeast aspects. The weak layers were either preserved surface hoar or near surface facets, buried down 2-3’ in the snowpack.  Trent produced an excellent video recap of the avalanche that...


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