Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Issued by Greg Gagne for Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 7:37am
The avalanche hazard remains at CONSIDERABLE at the mid and upper elevations facing northwest through southeast where a complex pattern of weaker buried layers of snow remain. There is a MODERATE hazard of fresh drifts and storm snow at the upper elevations, as well as north-facing mid elevations.
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Weather and Snow
A cold front entered the Wasatch mountains overnight with snowfall beginning just after midnight. As of 6 am, temperatures in the Provo mountains range throughout the 20's F and winds are northerly and generally light at the low and mid elevations. Upper elevations are in the teens with gusts in the 20's and 30's mph. Overnight snowfall varies widely, with 1-6" reported, the highest amounts in the southern end of the range.
For today, expect periods of light to moderate snowfall, with storm totals of 3-6" by late afternoon. Temperatures will be in the teens at mid and upper elevations, and low to mid 20's F at lower elevations. Winds will be out of the northwest. At the mid elevations winds will average in the teens, with gusts in the 20’s mph. At upper elevations add about 10 mph to those numbers, averaging in the teens and low 20’s mph, with gusts in the 30’s mph.
Continued snowfall is expected overnight, with an additional 1-3" possible. Clearing during the day on Thursday, with cool temperatures in the teens and 20's mph.
For the extended forecast, Friday looks to remain cool, but a strong ridge of high pressure moves in and stays put for awhile. Temperatures along upper elevation ridgelines will be above freezing by Sunday.
Recent Avalanches
We heard reports of wet activity on Tuesday, including a large wet loose avalanche on a north aspect at 7500' in Slide Canyon.
Avalanche Problem #1
New Snow
Although only small amounts of new snow are forecasted, sluffing in the new snow is possible, especially on steeper northerly aspects where drier old snow was preserved. If snowfall rates are higher than forecasted (they are currently forecasted to remain light) the new snowfall may be more sensitive during any period of heavier snowfall. Watch for signs of instability such as cracking and sluffing.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
The Provo snowpack remains dangerous on many aspects and elevations, with a complexity that makes it difficult to identify patterns. Field reports from Tuesday indicated persistent weak layers are still reactive to stability tests, and this is enough for very experienced people to continue to provide a wide buffer of margin in this terrain. These are difficult and dangerous conditions to assess - from Cascade to Box Elder to Timp to the southern Wasatch Back (Snake Creek to Mill Canyon Peak).
Avalanche Problem #3
Wind Drifted Snow
North/northwest winds will create pockets of fresh drifts at the upper elevations. Although these will primarily be found on southerly and easterly aspects, cross-loading will make it possible for drifting on any aspect. These drifts will generally be 6-12" thick.
Cornices - Avoid traveling across or underneath corniced ridgelines as fresh wind-loading may make cornices more reactive.
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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