Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Issued by Trent Meisenheimer for Wednesday, February 17, 2021
DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS EXIST. AVOID ALL AVALANCHE TERRAIN
Today the avalanche danger is EXTREME on all aspects and elevations. Avoid being under or near any steep slope. Even very small slopes can bury a person.
Heavy snowfall and a weak faceted snowpack have created very dangerous avalanche conditions. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are certain. Even unusual avalanches are possible in atypical terrain on atypical aspects and elevations.
Anybody going into or near the mountains today should avoid being near or under any steep slope - this includes skiing, snowshoeing, running, sledding, dog walking, etc.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
Learn how to read the forecast here
Avalanche Warning
WARNING ISSUED
THE AVALANCHE DANGER RANGES FROM HIGH TO EXTREME ACROSS THE WARNING AREA
IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM MST THIS MORNING TO 6 AM MST THURSDAY
FOR THE MOUNTAINS OF MUCH OF THE STATE OF UTAH, INCLUDING THE WASATCH RANGE...BEAR RIVER RANGE...UINTA MOUNTAINS...MANTI-SKYLINE...THE FISH LAKE REGION…PAHVANTS…TUSHARS…AND THE CEDAR CITY AREA MOUNTAINS.
VERY DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS EXIST. NATURAL AND HUMAN TRIGGERED AVALANCHES ARE CERTAIN OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. STAY OFF OF AND OUT FROM UNDER SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES
Special Announcements
An EXTREME avalanche danger means:
  • It is the highest level of avalanche danger.
  • Avalanches are certain to occur.
  • Avalanches may run historic distances and create new avalanche paths.
  • Avalanches will be fast-moving, far-running, and very destructive.
  • Avalanches may reach or occur in places not normally affected by avalanches.
Weather and Snow
The heavy snowfall continues bringing an additional 8-15 inches (0.45 - 1.13" swe) of new snow overnight to the Upper Cottonwoods. This morning, the snow will continue to be focused around the Cottonwoods and the east benches with heavy snowfall until about 11:00 am. Snow will begin to slow this afternoon and turn more showery. Mountain temperatures are in the single digits °F to the mid-teens °F. Upper elevation winds have decreased and are now blowing west north-west 5-10 mph, gusting into the 20's. Storm totals are impressive:
Upper LCC: 50-80 inches of new snow with 3.0-6.22" water weight.
Upper BCC: 25-40 inches of new snow with 1.50-2.61" water weight.
PC Ridge: 15-30 inches of new snow with 1.0-2.0" water weight.
Ogden area: 20-30 inches of new snow with 2.0-2.5" water weight.
Provo area: 10-17 inches of new snow with 0.70-1.0" water weight.
Recent Avalanches
Many large natural avalanches have been reported. These avalanches are crashing down from thousands of feet above and running long distances, snapping trees, and putting debris on summer roads and hiking trails. You can read all observations HERE.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
This storm added a huge load of new snow and wind-blown snow to a very weak and faceted snowpack. Avalanches will be big and destructive, 3-5 feet deep and hundreds of feet wide or larger.
The most suspect terrain continues to be the west through north through southeast, facing aspects at mid and upper elevations. HOWEVER, with so much snowfall and wind - upper elevation south-facing terrain and low elevation north-facing terrain will also produce avalanches that break on buried persistent weak layers.
Keep in mind:
  • Avalanches can be triggered from a distance or below.
  • Any fresh wind slab or new snow avalanche may step down several feet into older snow.
Video below is showing just how big these avalanches can be.
Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Avalanches of new snow will occur on all aspects and elevations even in places not affected by recent strong winds. These new snow avalanches can impact anybody going into or near the mountains today including skiing, snowshoeing, running, dog walking, sledding, etc.
Avoid traveling near or below steep slopes as these new snow avalanches can run fast and far. Extreme caution is required.
General Announcements
Please visit this website with information about Responsible Winter Recreation by the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation.

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.