Forecast for the Ogden Area Mountains

Trent Meisenheimer
Issued by Trent Meisenheimer for
Saturday, January 6, 2024
The avalanche danger is MODERATE across most mid-elevations and on all upper elevations. The two avalanche concerns for today are (1) sensitive soft slabs of wind-drifted snow (2) sluffing (dry-loose avalanches) within the new snow. MODERATE danger means human-triggered avalanches are possible.
Heads up: If the winds from the south blow harder than forecast the avalanche danger could quickly spike to CONSIDERABLE. Look for and avoid slopes that are being loaded by the wind. Cracking and collapsing are bulls-eye clues to unstable snow.
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Weather and Snow
Under cloudy skies, we welcome back the return to winter. Current mountain temperatures are cold and range from the single digits to 19 °F. Winds have been on their best behavior and blow generally from the southwest at 5-10 mph with the occasional gust into the 20s. Across the upper elevation peaks, the winds are a bit stronger and blow southwest at 15-20 mph. In the past 48 hours, we've picked up 3-6 inches of very low-density new snow (0.2-0.33" water).
As one storm exits, we have another one on tap that currently sits off the Oregon coast. Winds are currently from the west-north-west this morning and are generally calm. However, as the next storm approaches, the winds will continue to be from the southwest and are forecast to blow 15-20 mph, gusting into the 20s at 700 millibars (10,000'). These southerly winds will be increasing through the day and will peak a couple of hours after sundown. Clouds will be increasing throughout the day as well, with isolated snow showers at times. Temperatures will climb into the upper teens to low 20s °F.
Around 7:00 PM tonight, the next wave of snow should begin to fill in across northern Utah. The strongest snowfall will be associated with the frontal passage Sunday morning, and we could see another 10-18 inches of new snow by Monday morning.
Recent Avalanches
No new avalanches were reported from yesterday. Read recent observations from the backcountry HERE.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Our new snow has fallen straight out of the sky, and even though we have plenty of weak snow out there, it's fluff on fluff (for now). This morning, the winds are generally calm. However, as our storm approaches this afternoon, the winds will continue to blow from the southwest at speeds of 15-20 mph across the upper-elevation terrain.
With plenty of snow available for transport, any unexpected increase in the winds today will quickly form a slab over the underlying weak snow, and avalanche conditions could change rapidly. Therefore, be on the lookout and on guard for any active wind drifting and avoid those slopes. These soft slabs of wind-drifted snow could be 6-12" deep. Cracking and collapsing are bulls-eye clues to unstable snow.
Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Yesterday, during my field day, we could easily initiate the new low-density snow into sluffing on the steeper terrain. As the new snow traveled downhill, it would gouge into the old weak snow and pick up some volume. These dry-loose (sluffs) avalanches traveled well into the flats.
If you're getting onto steeper terrain today, remember to watch your sluffs and be sure not to get tangled up in them. These avalanches in steep sustained terrain could be surprising as they can pack some serious punch.
Avalanche Problem #3
Persistent Weak Layer
Over the past month, we've seen very little snowfall, mainly clear skies and cold temperatures. This has created very weak and faceted snow across northern Utah. Unfortunately this weak snow is now buried and preserved roughly 3-6 inches deep. As more snowfall (weight) is added to our snowpack, it will only be a matter of time before conditions become deadly.
However, for today, there is not enough weight (unless there is wind loading) to affect our faceted snow. This will change in the coming days and will likely be a problem for us for the foreseeable future.
Video: Trent Meisenheimer talking about the current snow structure and what we can expect.
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.