Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Dave Kelly
Issued by Dave Kelly for
Saturday, March 30, 2024
Today, the avalanche danger will start out at MODERATE on all aspects at mid and upper elevations for new and wind-drifted snow. There is a LOW avalanche danger in lower elevation terrain. The avalanche danger could rise to CONSIDERABLE throughout the day with increased snowfall and wind.
The travel advice for today is to use careful snowpack evaluation and cautious route finding. Avalanches travel in packs, so if you see signs of instability, it is time to back off and choose lower angle terrain. On east facing slopes at mid-elevations there is a lingering layer of facets above a melt-freeze crust that may make for more sensitive avalanche conditions on terrain over 35 °.
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Weather and Snow
Currently, under overcast skies lightly rimed snow is falling. We have had 2"-6" new snow with .10"-.30" water overnight. Trail-head temperatures are in the mid-high 20's °F and the highest peaks are in the low 20's °F. Winds at the 9,000' ridge-lines are blowing from the west southwest in the low 20's gusting to the 40's MPH and the 11,000 ridge-line winds are blowing from the southwest in the mid 20's gusting to the 50's MPH.
Today, skies will be overcast, temperatures should be 32-34°F, with winds blowing from the south-southwest 20 gusting to 40MPH at the lower ridge-lines and 35 gusting to 45 MPH at the highest ridge-lines. Look for 3"-7" of snow with .25"-.55" of water and more snow in areas favored by southwest flow. The freezing level will hover around 7,000' and we could see mixed precipitation below this elevation with a 10% chance of lightning.
Our partners at the National Weather Service have issued a Winter Weather Advisory from now until 600PM on Saturday March 30th read the forecast discussion HERE.
Recent Avalanches
Yesterday, we observed small dry loose avalanches on all aspects and small skier triggered avalanches on east facing slopes running on small grained facets on top of a melt freeze crust (photo below) and snow safety teams at local resorts reported dry loose avalanches in the morning with wet loose avalanches in the afternoon. There was a report of a cornice triggered avalanche 1'-3' deep in the Dog Lake Chutes area. There was also a report of the Raymond Slabs glide avalanche releasing sometime early in the morning of March 29th.
With yesterday's warm spring sun, the snow surface took heat on all aspects and elevations and there is a crust under the newest snow on east-south-west facing aspects.

Check out all avalanches and observations HERE.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Moderate to strong winds overnight have created sensitive soft slabs of wind-drifted snow at the mid and upper elevations. Avalanches involving wind-drifted snow may be over 2' deep and up to 150' wide.

Sensitive cornices can be found along many exposed ridgelines at the mid and upper elevations. Avoid traveling on or below corniced ridgelines as a cornice collapse could trigger a new or wind-drifted snow avalanche.
Photo (Brighton Snow Safety) of a skier triggered cornice avalanche on a north-east facing slope at 10,000'.
Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Triggering an avalanche involving sluffing or soft slabs of new snow is possible on all steep slopes. Yesterday we found weak snow on mid-elevation east facing terrain that was made up of small grained facets 4"-6" below the surface running on a melt-freeze crust. These east facing slopes are the places I would be cautious of especially in terrain over 35 ° in steepness.
Now that we are towards the end of March if any sun comes out at all expect to see rapid heating of the snow surface and new dry loose avalanches quickly turning to wet loose avalanches. With a freezing level hovering around 7,000' wet loose new snow avalanches are possible and areas that did not have a good refreeze overnight are more susceptible to wet snow avalanches throughout the day; particularly if we see rain on snow.
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.