Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Issued by Drew Hardesty for Thursday, January 31, 2019
The avalanche danger is LOW on all aspects and elevations. Low danger implies "generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features." Remember that even a small avalanche can have severe consequences in unforgiving terrain.
It's a good time to practice your companion rescue skills.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
The report from last Friday's avalanche accident in the La Sals is finished and can be found HERE. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends affected by this accident.
New blog post - I AM Dangerous (link). This is a conversation/collaboration with the writer Molly Absolon in the Tetons. Thanks Molly.
Weather and Snow
Skies are clear, ain't it a shame.*
Mountain temps are in the upper teens to low 20s.
Winds are west-northwesterly, blowing 10-15mph with speeds twice that at 11,000'.
In 1976, Dave Hanscom and Alexis Kelner published Wasatch Tours, a backcountry skiing guidebook "intended for a rather limited population of skiers who practiced their sport mostly in the proximity of the Central Wasatch". They later published two complementary books that expanded into terrain outside of the central Wasatch. Each are a gem (the books as well) and the reader quickly grasps the passion and love of skiing that each brought to these wonderful books. In their books, they recommend - when the avalanche conditions are suitable - a SuperTour - a long outing among the high peaks and covering lots of ground. I hope you've gotten yours. (pc:McLean)
Recent Avalanches
Avalanche Problem #1
Normal Caution
Risk is inherent in mountain travel. (See blog post). Remember that even a small slide can be troubling if above extreme terrain. It's a good time to practice your companion rescue skills. A couple of things to be mindful of today:
  • Be suspicious of any wind drifts in the high alpine terrain. Most are welded in by now, but normal caution should be observed.
  • The steep sunlit slopes should soften with direct sun and daytime warming today. Small wet sluffs may be triggered in this terrain after the diurnal thaw.
  • As always, avoid being on or beneath the growing cornices along the ridgelines. Always use a spotter to help gauge the true ridgeline.
  • The various weaknesses in the snowpack have become dormant over the past days and weeks. This is not the case in the Uintas and probably the Provo mountains>south.
Additional Information
* Our avalanche center office has long been co-located within the National Weather Service building out on west North Temple. In the very early part of the forecast shift, I'll wander out to look at the weather models on the AWIPS (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) and hem-and-haw over the various weather products. This morning, I saw what you see below and said, "Now that is a beautiful thing." (And the lead weather forecaster just laughed).
A powerful series of storms are on the doorstep. We'll see increasing clouds and southerly winds Friday night ahead of a long and complicated storm...that lasts perhaps until Wednesday. The early part of the storm moves in on a southwesterly flow with perhaps an initial rain/snow line to 8-8500'. Snow should begin in earnest on Sunday with continued significant snowfall Monday into Tuesday. The flow looks to remain southwesterly to westerly until Tuesday morning when the flow shifts to the northwest. 2-3'+ is expected by Tuesday afternoon. Possibly more.
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.