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Forecast for the Ogden Area Mountains

Nikki Champion
Issued by Nikki Champion for
Friday, March 25, 2022
A MODERATE avalanche danger exists on steep west to north to east facing aspects at all elevations. Here, you can trigger avalanches 1-3' deep that fail on a persistent weak layer of faceted snow.
On all steep southerly facing terrain, and low elevation northerly terrain the avalanche danger will be MODERATE for wet-loose avalanches as strong sunshine and warm temperatures begin to heat the snow surface throughout the day.
With such a dramatic temperature increase, avalanche danger will be on the rise. Timing will be the name of the game over the next few days - once the snow surface becomes wet and unconsolidated it is time to move off of and out from underneath any steep slopes.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
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Special Announcements
Summary of Avalanches on the Jan/Feb Drought Layer PWL Feb 19-Mar 19: Some Surprises, Some Interesting Lessons.
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Weather and Snow
This morning, skies are mostly clear and mountain temperatures range in the low 30s °F at trailheads, where cold air sinks, mid 40s °F. Overnight temperatures hovered above freezing at most elevations. Winds are currently from the west southwest averaging 5-15 mph and blowing 20-25 mph across the upper elevation terrain.
Today, skies will become mostly sunny with mountain temperatures climbing into the upper 40s °F. Winds will become gradually southwesterly, and blow at speeds of 10-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph at the highest ridgelines. Cold dry powder could still exists in the upper elevation northerly terrain. However, the powder compass will be shrinking more and more over the next few days.
Warm air advection and high pressure will dominate the weather pattern for the remainder of the weekend with plenty of sunshine and mountain temperatures skyrocketing. Many places across the Beehive State are slated for record-breaking temperatures. Our next chance of snow comes Monday into Tuesday. Snow levels on Monday will be high. Late Monday or early Tuesday a cold front will move through the area, causing both a wind shift to the NW along with falling temperatures and snow levels. Currently, snow showers are expected to end late Tuesday.
Recent Avalanches
Yesterday, was a relatively quiet day in the backcountry. Ski resorts and guide operations reported some small wet loose activity beginning.

In the Provo area mountains, some larger wet activity has begun occurring on Timpanogos and the surrounding peaks. On the NW aspect of Spanish Fork Peak near 8000ft, a wet avalanche seemed to have failed on or within January/Feburary facets. Approx 30 ft wide and 40ft long and about 2-3ft deep. Find the full observation HERE.
Photo of widespread wet loose activity running on Timpanogos.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Triggering avalanches 1-3' deep on steep slopes facing west through north and east at all elevations remains possible. These avalanches are failing on a persistent weak layer (PWL) that formed during the January/February drought. Such warm weather can do weird things to our snowpack and become increasingly reactive to the additional weight. Over the next few days, we may begin to see the likelihood of triggering an avalanche on this layer increase again.
Many of these avalanches are being triggered at the mid-elevations (8,000' - 9,500') and often in slight openings in otherwise dense trees. We've had many close calls throughout March on this weak layer and it's not time to let our guard down. Travel advice: Where the faceted snow is buried choose slopes less than 30° in steepness, with no overhead hazard.

A few things to remember when dealing with these persistent weak layers:
  • You won't know exactly when and where you will trigger the avalanche, but you will probably trigger it from a distance. These types of avalanches are unmanageable.
  • Tracks on the slope offer zero signs of stability. Avalanches can take out multiple existing tracks.
  • If you do choose to ride slopes where this layer exists, stack the odds in your favor by choosing slopes with a clean runout zone free of trees and rocks that would cause trauma if you do trigger an avalanche.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wet Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Overnight temperatures dropped just below or near freezing, that paired with clear skies should have allowed the snow surface to lightly refreeze this morning. However, another day of strong sunshine and warm temperatures will continue to produce wet, loose avalanches today once the snow surface begins to take on the heat. If you notice the snow surface becoming damp or unsupportable or see active roller balls cascading down, it's time to head home or change your aspect.
Fortunately, this is generally a predictable avalanche problem where you can expect avalanching in the wet snow once it begins to soften. The main concern is having a naturally triggered slide come down onto you, especially if you are in a gully, couloir, or other confined terrain where avalanche debris can pile up deeper and you have no route for escape.
Timing is key, once the snow surface becomes wet and unconsolidated it will be time to move off of and out from underneath any steep slopes.
This weekend: Overall, forecasting wet snow is difficult. On Saturday and Sunday, we will continue to see very warm temperatures, clear skies, and likely more wet snow avalanches. With so many crusts, and facet interfaces we may begin to see some wet slab or glide avalanches as the facets and lower layers begin to get wet. The challenge is knowing when and if this change from more predictable wet loose avalanches, to more powerful wet slab avalanches will happen. See Drew's recent observation from Park City Ski Resort where he talks about some of the nuances of wet snow and free water movement in the snowpack. The good news is, even with wet slab avalanches, the same travel advice exists and timing is key. Avoid those slopes once the snow becomes wet and unconsolidated.
In the photo below the Kool-Aid represents free water moving and pooling at suspect interfaces. You'll see the pink water pooling along with crust and facet/crust interfaces as denoted by the photo/blue lines. East facing slope at 9650' along the PC ridgeline.
General Announcements
Who's up for some free avalanche training? Get a refresher, become better prepared for an upcoming avalanche class, or just boost your skills. Go to https://learn.kbyg.org/ and scroll down to Step 2 for a series of interactive online avalanche courses produced by the UAC.
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.