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Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Issued by Mark Staples for Sunday, April 24, 2022
UPDATE - Sunday, April 24 at 7 a.m. - There's plenty of new snow and wind drifted snow to cause avalanches today. While many instabilities in the new snow may have healed since yesterday, periods of strong sunshine today and early this coming week will create new instabilities as sun and warm air quickly heat the new snow. Scroll down to the weather & snow section for updated info on the weather
During the spring, there are typically three different avalanche problems:
1. Wet Snow: Wet loose avalanches, wet slab avalanches, and lastly glide avalanches.
2. New Snow: New storm snow instability as soft slab avalanches and loose dry avalanches.
3. Wind Drifted Snow: Wind slabs - soft or hard drifts of wind-blown snow.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
Regular avalanche forecasts have ended. Intermittent updates will be issued through April any time it snows. We will continue posting observations and avalanches, so please keep submitting them as you get out in the mountains.
Be sure to mark your calendars - join us for the 29th Annual Backcountry Benefit at Black Diamond on Thursday, September 8 and the15th Annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop Open Sessions on November 2 and 9, and Professional Session on November 4.
Weather and Snow
Winter was in full force yesterday (Saturday) as 17 inches fell in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) and 6-11 inches fell in Big Cottonwood Canyon (BCC). Storm totals since Friday are 29 inches of snow (3 inches water) in upper LCC and 18-20 inches of snow (1.5-2.0 inches of water) in upper BCC.
This morning is cold with temperatures in the mid to upper teens F. Winds are blowing 4-10 mph gusting 19 mph from the northwest. Winds at 11,000 ft are averaging 20 mph gusting to 28 mph.
Today will have a mix of sun and clouds. Some snow could fall late morning and early afternoon as a few storms develop and move through the area but no real accumulations are expected. Cold air will remain in place over northern Utah today, but strong April sunshine should help warm temperatures into the 30s F today. Light winds will continue from the north, but they will become gusty and strong for short periods if storms move through the area. Much warmer air arrives from the south Monday afternoon. The combination of warm air and strong sunshine will bring much warmer temperatures at the start of next week.

A list of all weather stations throughout the Wasatch Range can be found HERE.
The skiing and riding were as good as it gets by some accounts yesterday. There were also some avalanches involving the new snow and wind drifted snow. Ski patrols triggered many soft slab avalanches with both ski cuts and explosives that were big enough to bury a person. Read all the observations HERE.
Evaluate bonding within the new snow which should have improved quite a bit since yesterday. I doubt winds are still transporting more snow, but yesterday (Saturday) gusty winds from the north and northwest were actively moving snow and forming fresh wind slabs. There was one report of a rider being caught in a slide in the Birthday Chutes and possibly a few riders caught in a slide along the Park City Ridgeline. My greatest uncertainty today is how warming temperatures and sunshine will affect the snow. Certainly by Monday, snow receiving direct sunshine will become wet and unstable, but I'm not sure how much it will warm today.
Recent Avalanches
A list of all observations and avalanches can be found HERE.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Wet Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
When cold, dry snow becomes wet for the first time, it almost always means wet sluffs (loose snow that fans outward as it descends).
Larger wet slab avalanches can happen when melt water percolates through a layered, winter snowpack for the first time especially after 3 days of strong melting combined with no refreeze at night.
Luckily, wet avalanches usually don't last forever because over time, days or weeks of percolating meltwater, all the layers in the snow disappear, and the snow becomes homogenous and dense, turning into a stable summer-like snowpack. Typically, this cycle of instability maturing into stability occurs first on the south-facing slopes in early spring, then progresses to the east and west-facing slopes in mid-spring, and finally, by late spring, the upper elevation north facing slopes go through a wet avalanche cycle.
Finally, glide avalanches occur regularly in spring as the entire snowpack slides slowly on the ground like a glacier until they suddenly release into a full-depth avalanche. These occur periodically on steep rock slabs and occasionally on steep grassy slopes. Notorious glide avalanche locations include Stairs Gulch or the rock slabs in Broads Fork, which you should always avoid in spring. Avoid crossing under any slopes with telltale glide cracks in the snowpack. Remember, they come down randomly, even at night.
The bottom line for wet avalanches:
Get out early and get home early. Get off of--and out from underneath--any slope approaching 35 degrees or steeper when the snow becomes wet enough not to support your weight. Warning signs may include:
  • Rollerballs (pinwheels) in new snow that is getting wet for the first time
  • Natural or human triggered wet sluffs
  • Small sluffs fanning out into larger slides or running long distances
  • Cornices breaking off
  • Several days of strong melting combined with no refreeze at night.
These signs mean it's time to head home or change to an aspect with cooler snow. Remember, even "smaller" slides can be dangerous in high-consequence terrain, such as above a terrain trap, trees, rocks, cliffs, or a long, large avalanche path. Plan your trip to have a safe exit back to the car.
Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
We almost always get several winter-like snow storms in April and May. Treat each storm just like you would in winter. Avalanches can occur within the new snow typically from 1) low-density layers deposited during the storm, 2) high precipitation intensity during a storm, and 3) from wind slabs created during the storm.
It's easy to test the new snow as you travel by jumping on small test slopes to see if they avalanche or dig down with your hand to see how well the new snow is bonding. Snow can change dramatically in both space and time, so never let your guard down. Especially avoid any steep slope with recent wind deposits, which are almost always dangerous.
Practice the usual backcountry protocol, go one at a time, never travel above other people and practice all the usual risk reduction measures and low-risk travel rituals you learn in avalanche classes.
Avalanche Problem #3
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Each storm will be worth looking at the winds to find out which direction they have blown from and what direction they will be blowing for the day. Wind can rapidly load snow onto steep slopes, making those slopes more prone to avalanching. The wind drifted snow looks rounded and pillowy; in some cases, it can sound hollow like a drum. If you see shooting cracks, it's a sign you may have hit a wind slab. Click on this link HERE and check upper elevation winds for speed and direction.
Additional Information
  • Regular avalanche forecasts with avalanche danger ratings have ended. We will continue to post all observations so please keep submitting them.
  • Thanks to all of you who have sent observations this season. Crowd-sourcing is the most valuable information we get. Other avalanche centers all over the world are modeling our program. And special thanks to all the Utah avalanche professionals: ski areas, Utah Department of Transportation, guides and educators, Powderbirds, and Park City Powder Cats.
  • Thanks to Darren Van Cleave and the National Weather Service who provide office space, weather forecasting, tech support, and great company.
  • A special thanks to all of you who donate directly to the Utah Avalanche Center. We couldn't do this without your support.
  • Most of the ski areas are closed and each has a different uphill travel policy. Remember that areas open to uphill travel are no longer doing any avalanche mitigation work and must be treated as backcountry terrain.
  • The Utah Avalanche Center is a partnership between the Forest Service and the non-profit Utah Avalanche Center. On the Forest Service side, thanks to unwavering support from our boss Renee Flanagan, Forest Supervisor Dave Whittekiend, the rest of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Brian Murdock and Michael Diem of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and the financial support from Chris Hartman of the Forest Service Intermountain Region. Two-thirds of the Utah Avalanche Center funding along with the awareness and education programs comes from the non-profit Utah Avalanche Center. Our forecast staff includes Director Mark Staples, Drew Hardesty, Toby Weed, Craig Gordon, Brett Kobernick, Eric Trenbeath, Trent Meisenheimer, and Nikki Champion. Our nonprofit staff includes Executive Director Chad Brackelsberg, Greg Gagne, Paige Pagnucco, Andy Nassetta, Hannah Whitney, Christian Raguse, Dave Coyne, Francine Mullen, McKinley Talty, Paul Diegel, and interns Jeremy Collett, Jason Habib, Kate Thayer, and Pete Williams and Board of Directors Nicole Sumner, Kate Bowman, Michael Brill, Michael Shea, Rich Mrazik, Al Richards, Caitlin Hansen, Christian Schauf, Dara Cohen, Eric Quilter, Jacob Splan, Sara Gibbs, Sarah Moles, Ted Roxbury, TJ Kolanko, and Tyler Hansen.
  • Direct funding comes from longtime partners, Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, Utah Division of Emergency Management, and Salt Lake County
  • Generous support in the form of donated lift tickets and daily observations comes from Ski Utah, Alta, Brighton, Beaver Mountain, Deer Valley, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude, and Vail Resorts.
  • Business sponsors who donate to the Utah Avalanche Center are too numerous to list here but you can find them on our Sponsors Page.


General Announcements
Who's up for some free avalanche training? Get a refresher, become better prepared for an upcoming avalanche class, or just boost your skills. Go to https://learn.kbyg.org/ and scroll down to Step 2 for a series of interactive online avalanche courses produced by the UAC.
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.