Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Drew Hardesty
Issued by Drew Hardesty on
Monday morning, March 13, 2023
A MODERATE avalanche danger exists in the backcountry.
You can still trigger lingering soft and hard slabs in isolated terrain, particularly in the mid and upper elevations. Shallow dry and wet loose snow sluffs may also be expected in typical steep terrain.
Good travel habits save lives. Make a plan. Keep an eye on each other.

The avalanche danger will be on the rise over the next few days in lockstep with this next wet, warm, and windy storm.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
The UAC is currently working with the operation involved in Thursday's fatal avalanche in the Uintas to prepare a report. Please be patient as we sort out the details of this complicated incident. A preliminary report is available HERE.

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Weather and Snow
Skies are mostly cloudy. Winds are light from the west. Mountain temperatures are in the mid-20s.
Snow showers added 2-3" of medium density snow through mid-morning yesterday.
Today will be very spring-like with periods of sun, periods of snow showers. There is some chance of lightning/thunder in the afternoon. Mountain temps rise to the mid-20s up high, the mid-30s down low. Winds are expected to be light from the west.

I view today as another day of rest ahead of the next atmospheric river event, due to impact Utah tomorrow afternoon. Winds will ramp up to strong from the southwest with rain up to 8000' in the afternoon. Warm wet and windy again Tues afternoon through Wednesday afternoon before, mercifully, the cold front arrives. All told, I would expect upwards of 1.5-2.0" of precipitation and 12-18" of snow through early Thursday.
Recent Avalanches
Ski area avalanche teams yesterday reported triggering shallow soft slabs as well as both wet loose and dry loose sluffs in steeper terrain.
Get all observations HERE.

It's worth checking out this very close call from Saturday. Video below -
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Soft and hard slabs of wind drifted snow exist in the mid and upper elevations on many aspects. These may be increasingly stubborn to trigger, but don't rule out triggering one of these in steep, localized terrain features. The very close call with an unsurvivable avalanche in Big Springs of the south fork serves as a stark reminder that even generally outlier avalanches can be catastrophic. I would avoid recently heavily wind loaded areas over a thin snowpack area.

CORNICES are currently large and growing and may be particularly sensitive and tender during periods of sun, warm temperatures and strong winds. Give cornices, and the edges of cornices a wide berth as they often break farther back than expected. Limit your exposure to slopes below cornices. Cornices are signs that a slope has been wind loaded and a cornice fall could trigger a larger slab of wind-drifted snow below.
Avalanche Problem #2
Normal Caution
Lingering "new snow" instabilities: We have had a lot of snow over the last few weeks and there are areas where we are finding decomposing stellar crystals, buried ice crusts, rime crusts, and isolated areas of faceted snow buried 1-3' from the surface and it's a good reminder that strange weather (like above average snowfall) leads to strange avalanches. There is a possibility of triggering an isolated avalanche on a new/old snow interface that is buried 1-3' from the surface. The solar aspects, particularly southeasterly facing slopes are acting more like a northerly aspect.
Both wet and dry loose new snow avalanches may be expected in steep terrain. You may find these to run far and gather mass on the slick underlying crusts from Saturday.
Spring time in the mountains means that things can change quickly and there can be an assortment of avalanche problems within an hour or an aspect of one another. It is a good time to year to be willing to adapt and change your plan if the weather or snow conditions change.
Additional Information
While not directly avalanche problems, tree wells, "snow immersion suffocation" is a backcountry danger worth noting. Read more HERE.
With so much snow on rooftops in mountain communities, roof avalanches will be a significant hazard as the sun warms roofs in mountain neighborhoods. Children playing and adults shoveling solo are especially vulnerable to this hazard.
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.