Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Nikki Champion
Issued by Nikki Champion on
Sunday morning, November 19, 2023
With an incoming storm bringing fresh snowfall and wind, the avalanche danger will be on the rise this morning.
High-elevation shady aspects, holding old snow, pose the highest potential avalanche risk. New snow may not bond well with old slick crusts or weak sugary faceted snow and may be sensitive, especially in steep wind-drifted terrain. Be sure to have a partner and carry the necessary rescue gear of a transceiver, probe, and shovel.
While burial risk is generally low, the danger lies in being carried over and through consequential terrain, causing potential injury. Exercise caution, as it's still early in the season with limited skiing and riding options

We’ll issue updates as conditions change.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
Check out the ski areas uphill travel policies before you head up to their terrain.
Weather and Snow
This morning, skies are overcast and it is lightly snowing in the mountains. Mountain temperatures are sitting in the mid 20s and low 30s F. As of 6AM, the upper cottonwoods have picked up an additional trace amount to 2" of new snowfall, bringing the current storm total between 2-5" of new snow. Along the 9000' ridgelines winds are blowing from the west at speeds of 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph. At the 11,000' ridgelines, winds are gusting up to 40 mph.
Today, we can expect widespread snow as an upper trough moves through the region. Snowfall, varying from moderate to heavy, will continue in the afternoon and into the night, transitioning from southwesterly to northwesterly and eventually northerly flow. Skies will remain overcast, and temperatures will climb into the upper 20s and low 30s F. Winds will transition to become more northwesterly. At the 9000' ridgelines, winds will average 10-20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph. At the 11,000' ridgelines winds will gust up to 35 mph. The mountains could get an additional 5-10" of new snow before 5 PM.
Outlook, The storm will gradually taper off late this evening into early tomorrow morning, potentially bringing the mountain snow totals up to 20 inches with up to 1.5 inches of water.

Prior to this storm, most of the southerly and westerly aspects were bone dry. The mid and upper elevation northerly aspects, however, held a mess of 12-20" of wind and temperature crusts interspersed with weak sugary snow (photo Kelly, Kelly, Grainger below). I would consider this a weak base for our snowpack. Remember, anytime there is enough snow to ride, there is enough snow to slide.
Recent Avalanches
We have had a few snow and avalanche observations trickle in as people have been getting out and about. Check them out HERE.
If you find something interesting submit it to the UAC HERE.

Check out the ski areas uphill travel policies if you're thinking of taking an early season lap in ski area terrain.
Avalanche Problem #1
Normal Caution
Avalanche conditions in the backcountry are generally safe, keep in mind:
  • New Snow - The new snow likely will not bond well to the different crusts and weak snow surfaces. There will be a potential for sluffing and even shallow soft slabs of storm snow, especially during any period of higher precipitation.
  • Wind-Drifted Snow - North and Northwest winds may find some soft snow to drift at the upper elevations. Watch for signs such as cracking in fresh wind slabs. Although these drifts should be small, you want to avoid getting caught in one in steep, consequential terrain.

Dave Kelly talks about the current conditions in the upper Little Cottonwood and the increasing avalanche hazard. Find his full observation HERE.
Additional Information
It’s never too early to start thinking about avalanches. Here are a few things to consider doing:
  • Learn online. We have over 5 hours of free online learning at the Know Before You Go Website
  • Check out the upcoming in-person Know Before You Go events HERE
  • Sign up for an on-snow class
  • Check out the UAC's education progression HERE
  • Get your avalanche rescue gear ready for winter. Put fresh batteries in your transceiver and update the firmware. Inspect your shovel and probe. Get your airbag backpack ready by possibly doing a test deployment and updating the firmware if it is an electric version or getting your canister refilled if it's not electronic.