Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Issued by Evelyn Lees for Friday, March 15, 2019 - 6:49am
The avalanche danger will rapidly increase to CONSIDERABLE for Wet Snow avalanches on and below steep, sunny slopes and low elevation slopes of all aspects. When the snow becomes damp, get off of and out from under the steep slopes, as wet sluffs will be easy to trigger and natural avalanches will occur. Have an exit plan that avoids steep, low elevation terrain. The danger for wet and dry new snow avalanches is greatest in the upper elevation terrain of Snake Creek and American Fork, which received more snow.
On mid and upper elevation slopes facing northwest through southeasterly, there is still a chance of triggering a deeper, wider slide failing on old, faceted snow layers, and a CONSIDERABLE danger.
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Special Announcements
The latest podcast is out! The Wise Ones - A Conversation About Mentorship with Eeva Latosuo and Aleph Johnston-Bloom. LINK
If you are heading to the Salt Lake or Provo area mountains,, Greg’s Week in Review has arrived! Check it out here.
Weather and Snow
Under clear skies, temperatures are in the teens at the mid and low elevations in the Provo area mountains, and probably single digits up high. Wednesday’s storm left 3 to 6" of snow in most parts of the Cascade and Timpanoogos terrain, sitting on a variety of crusts on most aspects. However, the southern Wasatch Back, Snake Creek and Dry Fork, has much higher storm totals - of 12 to 18". Winds are northerly, and averaging only 5 mph at the mid elevations. To the north, where there are upper elevation wind sites, speeds are a bit faster up high - averaging 5 to 15 mph, gusting 15 - 20 mph.
Sadly, serious high pressure is moving in, with clear skies and warming temperatures today through the weekend. Temperatures will warm to near 40 at 8,000’ in the Provo area mountains and mid 20s at 10,000’ today, with winds remaining very light at the mid and low elevations. The upper elevation ridge lines will have averages in the 10 to 15 mph range, perhaps gusting to 20 mph.
Recent Avalanches
No new observations from the Provo area mountains yesterday.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wet Snow
Wednesday’s storm will rapidly heat today under the strong March sun. The snow will dampen quickly, producing both natural wet avalanches and easily human triggered wet sluffs. With a good crust to run on, slides may fan out and run further than expected. The snow on low elevation north aspects will also heat, and has the potential to sluff today as well. The largest wet slides and greatest danger will be in the terrain that received the most snow, along the high terrain and ridge lines above American Fork and Snake Creek.
Keep eyes peeled for roller balls and cakey snow, clues of heating. Get on and off solar aspects early. Think about exits today, avoiding steep gullies and drainages - even the steep north facing gullies may run naturally today. With warming temperatures roofs may start shedding their snow and cornices will become sensitive again.
Don’t forget your skin wax and scraper today!
Even on the shady slopes, dry new snow sluffs and soft slabs can be triggered in steep terrain in the upper elevation terrain of Snake Creek and American Fork, which received much more snow than the rest of the Provo area mountains.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
The Provo snowpack remains dangerous on some mid and upper elevation aspects, 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 - with a lot of variety from Cascade to Box Elder to Timp to the southern Wasatch Back (Snake Creek to Mill Canyon Peak).
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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