Forecast for the Ogden Area Mountains

Issued by Trent Meisenheimer for Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 5:49am
Update: 8:30 am: Today, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on all steep upper elevation slopes for triggering new drifts of wind blown snow. MODERATE danger also exits at the mid elevation northwest through east facing terrain for wind drifted snow. There remains a MODERATE danger for the possibility of triggering a larger and deeper avalanche that breaks (1-4' deep) into faceted snow at the upper elevation west through southeast facing terrain and at mid to low elevation northwest through souteast facing terrain. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully, and identify features of concern. Human triggered avalanches are possible.
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Special Announcements
Drew Hardesty just released the first UAC podcast of the 2018/2019 season about "Guilt". As always Drew's insights are inspiring and thought provoking. Check it out HERE. Can't wait to see what else he has up his sleeve for this season.
Weather and Snow
This morning, we will see increasing clouds ahead of a very weak storm system that will cross Northern Utah this afternoon. Southerly winds are currently blowing 30-35 mph gusting into the 40's at Ogden Peak. Lose some elevation and winds are more reasonable and in the 10-15 mph range gusting into the low 20's. Current mountain top temperatures hover in the low 30's °F. Temperatures will be dropping throughout the day as the weak cold front slices overhead early afternoon. Winds are expected to die down later in the afternoon and switch to the northwest and we can cross our fingers for a trace to 2" of snow by tomorrow morning. Sigh.
The snow surface is best described by the words, windjacked, inverted, slabby and sustrugi. Some riders found soft settled powder in between the wind board and stiffer snow on the wind protected shady slopes. The sunny slopes will have a crust this morning that will likely not soften with today's winds and cooling temperatures.
Recent Avalanches
No new avalanches were triggered in the Ogden area mountains yesterday. However, reports of past avalanche activity from the weekend storm continue to stream in. A notable avalanche was reported by Doug Wewer to be 4' feet deep and 300' feet wide in the Lewis Peak area. This was likely a heavily wind loaded slope and he has some great photos, insights and thoughts found HERE. Kory Davis found an interesting lower elevation avalanche that likely failed on surface hoar and worth checking out HERE. It was on a low elevation SE facing slope.
Photo: Doug Wewer, showing a chunk of the avalanche debris that is now being stripped by the wind.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
The southerly winds has been relentless over the past 24 hrs. Average wind speeds across the high elevations have been in the 25-35 mph range gusting into the 30's and 40's. This has created fresh drifts of wind blown snow off the ridge lines and well down into the mountain valleys. Winds in the mountains often swirl around in the terrain and can cross load gullies, adjacent sub ridges and mid-slope break overs. Watch for and avoid being on any hard drifts of wind blown snow in any steep terrain today. These wind slabs have the potential to bury a human.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
There is now weak, sugary faceted snow buried in the mid snowpack in the Ogden area mountains. This layer formed early January from cold temperatures and clear nights, and has now been buried by new snow over the weekend. For now, I simply can't justify getting onto steep wind loaded terrain just yet, because of this faceted layer. I would continue to give this layer some time to adjust to the recent snow fall. The most likely place you could trigger a slide breaking into weaker snow would be upper elevation west through southeast facing terrain. Especially on slopes that have been heavily loaded by the wind.
The mid and lower elevation shady slopes are also a concern for triggering a slide breaking into weak snow. Avoid being in any steep terrain on the shady side of the compass at the mid and lower elevations. It's going to take a few more days for this layer to adjust to it's recent load of heavy snow. Any avalanche that fails into this weak layer will likely be 2-4' deep, having very bad consequences.
Mark Staples has a great video highlighting this weak layer.
General Announcements
This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This forecast is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

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