Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Dave Kelly
Issued by Dave Kelly on
Monday morning, February 5, 2024
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE at the upper elevations where humans are likely to trigger wind-drifted snow avalanches; these avalanches could step down to the buried Persistent Weak Layer. The avalanche danger is MODERATE at mid-elevations where human triggered avalanches are possible. There is a LOW danger at low elevations.

If you trigger an avalanche into the buried Persistent Weak Layer, it could break 3'-5' deep and well over a 100' wide failing on a weak layer of facets buried near the ground.
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Special Announcements
There is a NEW beacon training park in Park City near the Park City Day School. More info HERE.
Join Craig Gordon this Tuesday, February 6th from 6:00-7:30 for a State of the Snowpack presentation at Black Diamond Equipment
Weather and Snow
This morning, under overcast skies trailhead temperatures are much warmer today than yesterday in the high-20's F. Winds have increased and shifted blowing from a southerly direction 25 gusting to 45 MPH at the 9,000' ridgelines.

Today, strong southerly winds will continue blowing 20-30 gusting to 40MPH at the 9,000' ridgelines and 40 gusting to 60 MPH at the 11,000' ridgelines. Temperatures will be 35°-38°F. There is a chance of trace-2" of high-density snow (.10"-.20" water) with an off chance of 2-4"snow (.2"-.5" water) in areas favored by southerly flow. The freezing level will be 6,000' rising to 7,000' with daytime warming.

These strong winds are the precursor to a multi-day winter storm that will bring heavy mountain snow to the forecast area. Read more from our partners at the National Weather Service HERE who have issued a Winter Storm Watch.
Recent Avalanches
Yesterday there were reports of loose dry avalanches from the Provo Area Mountains from this report in Mary Ellen Gulch and I observed wind-loading on the highest ridgelines and dry loose avalanches north of Aspen Grove.
Just north in the Salt Lake area there were avalanches in Hidden Canyon in upper Big Cottonwood Canyon (see photo below) and in Days Fork that match the pattern of PWL avalanches we have been seeing. This avalanche on Cardiac Ridge is more of the new snow variety and this human-triggered avalanche in Lake Chute is more wind-drifted. And not to be left out there were reports of wet loose avalanches at lower elevations in mid Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Photo below showing wind-drifting along the highest ridgelines with a dry loose avalanche on east facing Timp.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Southerly winds blew all day yesterday at the highest ridgelines and increased overnight. You're likely to encounter sensitive slabs of wind-drifted snow on upper and mid-elevation terrain features. These slabs of wind-drifted snow will be most noticeable on leeward-facing slopes, but keep in mind that high winds can load any aspect due to swirling and changing wind directions as they navigate the mountains.
Watch out for signs of wind-drifted snow, like pillow-shaped deposits, and steer clear of those slopes. The most favorable riding conditions will be in sheltered, lower-angle terrain out of the wind.
This avalanche below was triggered in Lake Chute yesterday and is similar to what you may find in the highest elevations in the Provo Area Mountains. Today, you can expect to find much stiffer slabs of wind-drifted snow that may allow you to get further out on the slope before they break above you.
Video credit: Christoph
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
Avalanches continuing to fail in the persistent weak layer (PWL) over the past week indicate that this avalanche problem remains a concern. Steep, shallow, and rocky terrain features are locations where you are most likely to trigger an avalanche breaking into this layer.

Overall, the likelihood or possibility of triggering an avalanche on this layer has decreased over the past few weeks, but the consequences of triggering an avalanche on this layer remain the same. With the upcoming storm bringing additional snow and water weight and strong southerly winds the likelihood of triggering an avalanche on this layer will begin rising today through the next few days.
Photo of crown face from Hidden Canyon (Photo credit: Brighton Ski Patrol). This avalanche crown was 4' deep and broke on facets near the ground and is similar to what you may find in steep, thin, rocky terrain in the Provo Area Mountains.
Additional Information
If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, AND NO ONE IS HURT or needs help, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. If someone is injured or you need help call 911.
Salt Lake – Alta Central (801-742-2033)
Sundance Dispatch (801-223-4150)
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.