Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Nikki Champion
Issued by Nikki Champion for
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
This morning, there is MODERATE avalanche danger on all aspects at mid and upper elevations, where triggering a soft slab of wind-drifted snow remains possible.
Throughout the day, the strong sun and warm temperatures will cause the avalanche danger to rise to MODERATE at all elevations facing east, south, and west as the slopes heat up and the snow becomes wet. Dealing with wet snow is a matter of timing, and avoiding being on damp surfaces during the warmest part of the day is the best approach.
Avoid traveling on or underneath corniced ridgelines, as they may collapse due to warming.
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Weather and Snow
This morning, under clear skies, trailhead temperatures are in the mid-20s °F, while the highest peaks are in the upper teens °F. Winds at the 9,000' ridgelines have begun shifting more northerly and are blowing at low double-digit speeds, with gusts near 30 MPH at the highest ridgelines. Since yesterday afternoon, we have received a trace amount to 3 inches of snow, bringing the final storm totals between 8-27" of snow and up to 2.4" of water.
Today should be a beautiful day in the mountains with warm temperatures and sunny skies. Temperatures should climb into the upper 30s and low 40s °F, with winds blowing from the north at 5-15 MPH, gusting to 25 MPH at the mid-elevation ridgelines. At the highest ridgelines, winds will blow at 5-15 MPH, gusting to 30 MPH.
Outlook: Drier and warmer conditions will persist through midweek, followed by a strengthening southerly flow ahead of the approaching storm system expected to arrive on Friday.
Recent Avalanches
Yesterday was a significantly quieter day in the backcountry. A few backcountry travelers reported lingering sensitive slabs of wind-drifted snow in areas like White Pine and Raymond, as well as impressive cornices along ridgelines.
Ski resorts and guide operations reported similar avalanche activity, including wind slabs and D1 wet-loose avalanches as the slopes began to absorb heat.
Example of the shallow soft slabs seen in the backcountry yesterday - Near the Spire in White Pine - Hopkins / Hopkins / Matt Szad

Check out all avalanches and observations HERE.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wet Snow
With today's clear skies and increased temperature, expect to see wet-loose avalanche activity on all solar aspects with daytime warming. This will be most evident in areas out of the wind zone and in steep rocky gully features facing the southerly half of the compass. With so much soft new snow, wet loose snow avalanches could lead to shallow wet slab avalanches on steep solar aspects.
The best way to avoid this problem is to be off of sunny slopes before they start to take too much heat. Roller balls, dripping water off of rocks, and your boots or skis sinking into the surface snow are signs it's time to move to higher elevation or colder (more northerly-facing) terrain.
Avoid traveling on or underneath large cornices, as they may become sensitive to heating and collapse naturally onto the slope below.

With warming temperatures and a lot of cold snow available, roof slides are a concern. Be aware of adults working solo outside or children playing, as these are the people most susceptible to roof slides.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Strong winds over the weekend have created isolated soft slabs of wind-drifted snow at mid and upper elevations. Today, the sensitivity of the wind-drifted snow will continue to decrease, but areas out of the sun will still remain a concern.
These conditions will be most pronounced on leeward-facing slopes, but sporadic winds have loaded many aspects and elevations, so it's possible to encounter wind-drifted snow in mid-elevation terrain as well. Avalanches involving wind-drifted snow may reach depths of over 2 feet and widths of up to 150 feet.
Look for and avoid signs of wind-drifted snow, such as textured and pillow-shaped features. Approach steep terrain cautiously, especially if it has accumulated any drifting snow.
Additional Information
In 2004, local avalanche researcher Ian McCammon wrote a pivotal paper discussing the Human Factors or how we contribute to the avalanche triangle. These FACETS are worth thinking about all the time, but I find them especially relevant as we head into springtime. Read the full article HERE.
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.