Forecast for the Ogden Area Mountains

Issued by Drew Hardesty for Sunday, March 10, 2019 - 7:10am
A MODERATE DANGER exists for human triggered avalanches 1-2'+ deep and a couple hundred feet wide on a variety of aspects and elevations...and pockety in the lower elevations. Loose snow sluffs may run fast and far, especially on the steepest southerly aspects. If the sun or greenhousing manifests, wet avalanches are to be expected.
Safe and excellent powder riding can be found on low angle northerly slopes with no overhead hazard.
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Weather and Snow
Happy Daylight Savings.
Skies are mostly cloudy with perhaps a trace of new in the mountains. Under the spell of a weak warm front, we have slowly warming temperatures (upper-teens to low 20s) and mercifully light winds from the south. The cool, shady terrain will still have 5 star riding but some southerlies will have a breakable sun crust beneath the new.
It's been a good run this winter with much of the state well above average- see below (courtesy of our partners here at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center - we share an office with them at the NWS)

For the next couple days, we can expect overcast to mostly cloudy skies, light southerly winds and a warming trend toward the upper 20s along the ridgelines. A weak storm system arrives Tuesday night into Wednesday which should be good for another 4-8" of snow. Get it while you can. Models suggest high and dry late week into the weekend...and beyond -
As always, you can find good info on Instagram @ogdenavalanche or #ogdenavalanche
Recent Avalanches
Ski area avalanche control teams triggered both shallow storm slabs and loose snow avalanches with ski cuts and explosives.
In the Ogden area backcountry adjacent to Snowbasin, we heard about a party of three that triggered a soft slab avalanche onto a party of two below. This was reportedly in the Strawberry area (Birch Creek?) on a northeast facing slope at 8500-9000'. One member of the party below was caught and carried and partially buried. There was no report of injuries or lost gear. We hope to hear more info on this.
Many natural and human triggered avalanches reported in the snow snow from Friday with continued shooting cracks reported yesterday.
Avalanche Problem #1
New Snow
You can still trigger an avalanche within the recent storm snow on a variety of structural interfaces up to and over two feet deep today. Failure planes may include graupel, early storm low density snow, and on sun and rain crusts. Absent the tell-tale signs of instability (cracking, collapsing), it's worth pulling out the shovel and performing a few snow tests to gather info on the snow that you're keen to ski or ride. Use test slopes (steep but low consequence terrain) to help gather info for representative terrain.
A couple of fine points for today:
  1. Graupel (pellet snow) can be a significant weak layer as it often runs downhill and pools at the base of cliff bands or on clear transitions from steep to less steep terrain. It's not uncommon to successfully descend a couloir only to trigger the pocket in the aprons or more benign terrain below.
  2. Sluffing today is possible in the steepest terrain and may be more likely and problematic on the steep southerly aspects today. Weak snow may have developed above yesterday's sun crusts and this may aid and abet any of the sluffing on these slopes.
  3. Cornices are generally too large to tangle with and remain highly suspect. Remember 5% of our avalanche fatalities involve cornice fall.
Additional Information
  1. Terrain and terrain traps: note that some terrain is forgiving (nice open runout zones) and some is not. This must be part of the calculus if the snow doesn't agree with your assessment of it. Will you get carried over a cliffband, buried more deeply in a gulley or slope transition, or bashed through the trees? Use terrain to your advantage.
  2. Don't let the feeding frenzy go to your head. Communicate with other parties that may be above or below. One of Colorado's avalanche fatalities this winter involved a skier triggered avalanche onto a person in the runout zone below. INFO
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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