UDOT PLANNED AVALANCHE CLOSURES!!

Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Monday, January 21, 2019 - 3:01am
DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS EXIST
In the wind zone at and above treeline the avalanche danger is HIGH. Deep, dangerous, human triggered and natural avalanches are LIKELY on all steep wind drifted slopes, especially those facing the north half of the compass and particularly those with an easterly component to their aspect.
Winds are penetrating steep, shady terrain at mid elevations, where you'll find CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger and human triggered avalanches are PROBABLE.
In either case, any avalanche that breaks into deeper buried weak layers near the ground will result in a scary and potentially unsurvivable avalanche.
As storm snow stacks up MODERATE avalanche danger continues on steep, lower elevation slopes and human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE.
Here's your exit strategy... simply head to big open meadows with no steep terrain above, adjacent, or connected to where you're traveling.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
Learn how to read the forecast here
Avalanche Warning
THE FOREST SERVICE UTAH AVALANCHE CENTER IN SALT LAKE CITY HAS CONTINUED A BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE WARNING.
* TIMING...THROUGH 530 AM MST TUESDAY.
* AFFECTED AREA...THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTHERN UTAH INCLUDING THE BEAR RIVER RANGE, THE WESTERN UINTA MOUNTAINS, ALL OF THE WASATCH RANGE, AND THE MANTI SKYLINE.
* AVALANCHE DANGER...STRONG WINDS AND HEAVY SNOWFALL TODAY WILL PUSH THE AVALANCHE DANGER TO HIGH.
* REASON/IMPACTS...NATURAL AND HUMAN TRIGGERED AVALANCHES ARE LIKELY. AVOID BEING ON OR UNDERNEATH SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES.
Special Announcements
Bad news out of the Manti-Skyline where Michael Besnedorfer, 26, of Nephi triggered an avalanche late Friday. He was not wearing an avalanche beacon and his body was recovered yesterday. Our collective energy, thoughts, and peaceful vibes go out to Michaels friends and family.
Brett and Mark were at the scene and their report is found here.
Weather and Snow
Yes.... it was that big! A super, blood, wolf moon revealed itself last night, but slipped under a thick veil of clouds early this morning as a potent winter storm is bearing down on the region. Southerly winds are ramping up and blow in the 30's and 40's along the high peaks. Current temperatures are in the teens and low 20's. Strong overnight winds smoked upper elevation snow and avy danger is High in the wind zone, but low elevation, low angle, wind sheltered terrain offers soft, spongy snow, with plenty o' rebound.... mmmmm :)
Above is hourly data from Trial Lake (9,945') and Windy Peak (10,662'). To view more regional weather stations click here.
Recent Avalanches
Steep, wind loaded terrain remains suspect. Slabs are connected, and avalanches continue to break to weak snow in the midpack, or close to the ground like this slide above that was triggered from an adjacent slope..
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Make no mistake.... these are dangerous conditions and the exact type of setup when most avalanche accidents occur.
Nothing has changed since the beginning of last Thursday's big storm and avalanche conditions remain sketchy. To me, the most important thing is returning to my family at the end of the day and the way to accomplish this is by exercising some patience and allowing the snowpack to adjust to Thursday's onslaught of snow, water, and wind. It's no mystery what's going on here and recent snowpack history reveals that each time our pack has received a big thump of water, snow, and wind, dormant weak layers of snow roar back to life. What I saw Friday and again Saturday confirms this theory. Avalanches are breaking into midpack weak layers or even close to the ground, particularly in terrain facing the north half of the compass where the snowpack is thin and weak. Remember, all we need to do is find one weakness, maybe around a bush or rock that we can't see buried underneath the snow, collapse the pack, and now we've triggered a slide that quickly gets out of hand. So here's the deal... we've got to think about not only the snow riding in, but also the snow we're riding on.
Now here's where it gets complicated- this setup isn't going to magically heal itself overnight, so avoidance is the key for the next few days. Simply avoid being on, underneath, or connected to steep slopes, especially those facing the north half of the compass. And here's your exit strategy... great riding conditions exist on low angle, low elevation slopes facing the south half of the compass. Done and done.
With a good thump Jason B triggered this monster Saturday on an upper elevation ENE aspect. Breaking 4'-6' deep and a couple hundred feet wide, this slide failed on weak, midpack snow and broke to the dirt in several place. Once triggered, these are the type of avalanche dragons that are coming alive in our snowpack.
JG's beautiful pit profile clearly illustrates our current snowpack structure.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Winds are cranking and there's no shortage of snow to blow around and form fresh, stiff drifts along the leeward side of upper elevation ridges, in mid elevation terrain, and around chutes and gullies. Don't get fooled into thinking today's fresh drifts are the only avalanche dragon you're dealing with. Underneath the new drifts are old, connected drifts, that once triggered, will break deeper and wider than you might expect. Today you'll want to utilize all the awareness tools in your quiver. Look for obvious clues to unstable snow like shooting cracks out in front of our skis, board, or sled. Also remember to avoid any fat, rounded piece of snow especially if it sounds hollow like a drum. And finally the hugest clue... recent avalanches on the same kind of terrain you want to ride on.
Road cuts are great test slopes where you can see how they react to your additional weight before committing to bigger terrain. My partner Jeff checks out a weak layer of sugary, faceted snow formed during the January cold snap.
Avalanche Problem #3
New Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
As storm snow stacks up it'll be reactive to our additional weight on all elevations and on all aspect.
Additional Information
A solid shot of snow is headed our way and should begin impacting the eastern front in the next couple of hours. Southerly winds continue cranking in the 40's and 50's along the ridges, before switching to the northwest and relaxing somewhat. High temperatures rise into the mid and upper 20's. The storm should deliver a solid foot of snow before brief high pressure begins building late Tuesday.
More of a broad overview of the storms impact are found in the viddy above.
General Announcements
The information in this advisory expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 7:00 AM Tuesday January 22nd, 2019.
If you're getting out and about, please let me know what you're seeing especially if you see or trigger and avalanche. I can be reached at craig@utahavalanchecenter.org or 801-231-2170
It's also a good time to set up one of our very popular avalanche awareness classes. Reach out to me and I'll make it happen.
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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