Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Issued by Trent Meisenheimer for Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 4:55am

AVALANCHE DANGER MAY RISE SIGNIFICANTLY LATER TODAY AND MONDAY AS A STRONG COLD FRONT APPROACHES NORTHERN UTAH. This morning we have a LOW avalanche danger quickly rising to MODERATE by later this afternoon. HUMAN TRIGGERED AVALANCHES ARE POSSIBLE. The greatest danger will be on upper elevation northerly facing slopes. Avoid being on or underneath slopes that are steeper than 35 degrees in slope steepness.

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Weather and Snow

The southery winds this morning are having there way with the upper elevation anemometers with speeds in the 30 to 40 mph range - gusting into the 70's as a strong cold front approaches northern Utah. Temperatures are balmy with even the highest elevations just barly below freezing.

Powder snow??? ha, drive north. Our current snowpack and riding condidtions are pretty grim. Even the highest elevation northerly facing slopes support a crust that make turning and riding a challenge. Lower elevations, you'll be in the bushes and rocks. The good news - we have a much needed storm coming. However, keep in mind that our snowpack is shallow and made up of weak and faceted (sugary) snow. AVALANCHE DANGER MAY RISE SIGNIFICANTLY LATER TODAY AND MONDAY.

The picture on the left was taken yesterday December 2nd 2017. The Picture on the right was taken last year December 17th 2016. I think it's easy to see the difference from last winter to this winter. Don't be fooled into thinking we have a stable snowpack. Our snowpack this year is a mess of faceted snow. We are just lacking the slab (Sunday/Monday's snow).

Recent Avalanches

There has been no reported avalanche activity since Saturday Nov 18.

Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer

The snowpack on upper elevation (9000' and above) shaded aspects is made up of many different layers and in fact is somewhat confusing to me. It's complicated to know which layer will fail and when. It's a layer cake of crusts, graupel, facets, facets, oh and don't forget more faceted snow. The simple fact - the snowpack is all just one big weak layer!

Once we start stacking up storm snow on top of this mess I am sure we will have the perfect recipe for slab avalanches. The avalanche danger will be on the rise this morning and into the evening. Avoid being on and under steep (35 degree) northerly facing slopes today as avalanches could be trigger from a distance.

THE GOOD NEWS: Many of the southerly facing slopes and lower elevations (9000' and below) are free of faceted snow and will be a great choice for riding and turning once the storm snow accumulates. It's easy to pull out the shovel and quickly check whats underneath you. Evelyn has a great observation found here describing this.

Additional Information

Winds will remain strong and gusty out of the southwest this morning and early afternoon with speeds averaging 30-40 mph gusting into the 70's at the highest elevations as a highly anticipated storm approaches northern Utah. The airmass will continue to become more unstable throughout the afternoon and evening hours which will result in good orographics and bring a period of potentially steadier heavy snowfall into Monday morning for the upper Cottonwoods. Snow levels will drop from 7,000 feet this morning to the valley by this evening as cold air is ushers in. By the dinner hour we could see 5" to 7" inches of snow (0.3" - 0.4" H20). By Monday afternoon places that are favored by a northwest flow could see 13" to 20" of snow with (0.7" - 1.0" H20). Bring it on - fingers crossed.

General Announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911. Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

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