Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Issued by Evelyn Lees for Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 6:12am

The Avalanche Danger is MODERATE on steep, mid and upper elevation slopes facing west through north through east. Human triggered avalanches 1 to 3 feet deep and up to 200’ wide are possible in isolated places, failing on weak faceted snow grains. There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a new wind drift, most widespread on upper elevation north through easterly facing slopes.

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Weather and Snow

Under overcast skies, temperatures at most elevations have cooled into the twenties, with the low elevation stations right around freezing. The westerly winds kicked up for several hours last night, averaging 20 to 25 mph at the mid elevations, with 40 to 45 mph averages at the highest elevations. The few people out found improved turning conditions on sheltered, northerly facing slopes as the rime crust breaks down, leaving soft snow. The stouter ice crusts on the sunny slopes and on all aspects below about 8,500’ will probably not soften much today.

And if you're thinking the snowpack seems a bit shallow at your favorite trailhead, you're is looking at the water content of the current snowpack, percent of average. Go to the Web page here. and you can click on individual stations for details.

Recent Avalanches

There were two new slides reported in Alexander Basin yesterday, one triggered with an intentional cornice drop onto a very steep, rocky northeast-facing slope with a shallow snowpack, the other’s trigger unknown.

Red arrow points to two people. Alexander Basin, Drew Hardesty photo.

Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer

The chance of triggering a slide on one of the buried layers of faceted snow is decreasing, but if you do, the size would be the same - 1 to 3 feet deep, and up to a couple hundred feet wide. By avoiding steep, west through north through easterly facing slopes, you can avoid triggering one of these slides. Thinner snowpack areas are particularly suspect – such as rocky rollovers, the Park City and Millcreek ridgelines and drainages and the mid elevations.

Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow

Though there is minimal snow is available for transport, last night’s stronger westerly winds will have found some snow to drift into sensitive slabs at the higher elevations, especially on northerly through easterly facing slopes. The drifts are sitting on dry snow and thin rime crusts, and can be triggered by a person on steep slopes.

Additional Information

A series of very weak weather disturbances on a northwest flow will cross northern Utah through the weekend. The first shortwave will arrive late this afternoon, producing lots of clouds and a few snow flurries. The westerly winds will average 10 to 20 mph today at the mid elevations, with the high peaks reaching averages of 35 to 45 mph at times, with gusts in the 50s. Temperatures will warm into the mid twenties to upper 30s today, cooling back down into the twenties tonight.

A few inches of snow are possible Friday night into Saturday as another weak disturbance quickly moves through

General Announcements


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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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