Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Nikki Champion
Issued by Nikki Champion for
Thursday, January 26, 2023
The avalanche danger is generally LOW, but areas of MODERATE danger exist at upper elevations where freshly formed wind drifts are the primary concern. While these slabs of wind-drifted snow will be generally shallow, how dangerous they are will be determined by the terrain you're in.
Small, long-running sluffs are also possible in steep, sustained terrain.

Cornices continue to grow in size. Avoid traveling below or along corniced ridgelines as they can break further back than you might expect.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
Join the UAC, Weston Backcountry, Utah Mountain Adventures, and more vendors this Sunday, January 29 for the Brighton Beacon Bash near the Milly Chalet from 9 am to 4 pm. Beacon practice, backcountry ski and board demos, and much more! Click HERE for more info.
Weather and Snow
This morning, skies are overcast. There is currently an inversion in the Provo area mountains, where trailheads are in the single digits F and ridgelines are in the low teens F. Winds are blowing from the west northwest between 10-15 mph at mid-elevations. At upper elevations, winds are north-northwesterly gusting up to 40 mph. Overnight a trace amount of new snow fell.
Today, it will remain partly cloudy with the potential for occasional light, low-density snowfall. Accumulation would be minimal, with another trace to 2" of snow. Temperatures will climb into the low 20s F. Winds will remain west-northwesterly, averaging 5-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph at mid-elevations. At upper elevations, winds will average 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Many observers have noted a weakening snow surface, or weak snow just below the wind-drifted snow. With a few inches of new snow, and a weakening snow surface small loose avalanches are possible in protected steep terrain at all elevations. If the sun comes out at any point today, look for warming on any solar aspect at mid and lower elevations and avoid traveling underneath these slopes as an avalanche in steep rocky terrain could lead to an injury.
Recent Avalanches
Yesterday there were multiple reports of sensitive soft slab avalanches of both wind-drifted snow and new snow along upper-elevation terrain and ridgelines.
A small wind slab triggered while traveling alone the Pine Creek/Snake Creek Ridgeline zone while traveling the uphill. Read the full observation HERE.
Glide cracks are visible in areas of Broads Fork, including Bonkers and Stairs Gulch. Open glide cracks can lead to full-depth glide avalanches, though the timing between the initial appearance of a crack and an actual glide avalanche can be anywhere between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, but natural failures are very challenging to predict. Practice safe travel techniques of exposing only one person at a time while traveling underneath these open cracks.

Catch up on backcountry observations HERE.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
The elevated winds will continue to form sensitive slabs of wind-drifted snow along upper-elevation ridgelines and mid-elevation terrain features that allow for drifting snow to accumulate. Variable wind directions over the last few days will have loaded snow onto all aspects.
Look for cracking, collapsing, and rounded pillows of new snow, and avoid steep terrain where you could trigger them.
These wind-drifted snow avalanches may entrain snow on steeper slopes, and could be more than enough to take a rider off their feet. Even a small avalanche can be consequential in hazardous terrain.

Wind-drifted avalanche on a south facing slope at 9,200' (Photo-Karol)
Cornices continue to grow in size and will be sensitive today and may break further back than you anticipate. Give them a wide berth.
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.