Forecast for the Provo Area Mountains

Mark Staples
Issued by Mark Staples for
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
What a mess of conditions today! There is rain/drizzle and a wet snowpack at low elevations. Mid elevations have cooled but the snowpack likely remains mostly damp or wet and have a buried persistent weak layer that hasn't gone away. Higher up the snow surface refroze last night and now has an inch or two of new snow that will be drifted by increased winds this afternoon. The danger is MODERATE at all elevations and aspects because avalanches remain possible
If conditions sound complex, they are. After such hot weather this weekend, the snowpack remains wet in many places. Even though the snow surface refroze last night at mid elevations, the snow is likely wet underneath. To make matters more confusing and tricky, some slopes still harbor a buried layer of weak facets, and we don't know yet if this layer has begun healing or if it remains unstable. Most all of the avalanche problems are difficult to evaluate today.
Personally, I'd just avoid all avalanche terrain today because there's a lot of risk and uncertainty but little reward.
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Weather and Snow
Current weather: Early this morning temperatures finally dropped below freezing at elevations above about 8500'. This morning upper elevation temperatures are in the mid 20s F, mid elevations are hovering just below freezing, and low elevations are in the low to mid 30s F. Winds this morning are blowing 4-9 mph with a few higher gusts from the southwest. The rain/snow line appears to be around 8000' this morning with 1-2 inches of wet, heavy snow above that and a little drizzle of rain below that elevation.
Today's weather: Temperatures may climb a few degrees today especially at lower elevations and may remain in the mid to upper 20s F up high. By mid morning, winds should shift and blow from the northwest and increase to 20-30 mph by this afternoon. Snow will fall on and off through the day with the rain/snow line hovering near 8000'. There should be brief periods of heavy snowfall and possibly some lightning. 1-3 inches of snow should fall today with a few more falling overnight.
Snow conditions: I don't know what to say about the snow except it's a mixed bag of conditions. It's likely wet and unsupportable at low elevations. The snow surface at upper elevations refroze and has 2 inches of new snow on top this morning. Mid elevations refroze on the surface but likely have wet to damp snow underneath.
Image below shows air temperatures at the Arrowhead Station (8250') at Sundance which finally saw temperatures finally drop below freezing early this morning.
Recent Avalanches
Several large natural avalanches have been reported from the past few days, including Santaquin Canyon, Stewart Falls and Elk Point (video below):
Avalanche Problem #1
Wet Snow
Air temperatures finally dipped below freezing last night at elevations above 9000' after about 5 days without below freezing temps. The snow at mid and low elevations remains mostly wet and should remain so today especially with some rain falling at low elevations today. Mostly I expect wet loose avalanches at low elevations. What scares me more is the possibility of a wet slab avalanche at mid elevations mostly on north and east aspects with a buried persistent weak layer of facets (1-3 ft deep) that is likely wet or damp and unstable. I don't like it and I wouldn't trust the snowpack today.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
There's still a buried persistent weak layer of facets 1-3 feet deep. At upper elevations, this layer has a pockety distribution but may remain dry and weak.
I'm just really uncertain of the exact state of this layer today and wouldn't trust it. Where it became damp or wet, it may gain strength in coming days if it refreezes. I suspect there are a few pockets at the highest elevations where it remains dry and could produce a slab avalanche in coming days espeically as it gets loaded by new snow.
Avalanche Problem #3
Wind Drifted Snow
Snow falling today may be transported by increased winds from the north and northwest late today. Watch for a few, shallow, soft slabs of wind drifted snow under ridgelines and other terrain features.
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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.