Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Friday, January 11, 2019 - 3:11am
In the wind zone, at and above treeline the avalanche danger is MODERATE. Human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, particularly those facing the north half of the compass, and especially those an easterly component to their aspect
Any avalanche that breaks into deeper buried weak layers near the ground will result in a deep, scary, and dangerous avalanche.
While less widespread and pockety in distribution, a MODERATE avalanche danger is also found on steep, wind drifted slopes at mid elevations.
If you're looking for LOW avalanche danger, simply head to lower elevation terrain or big open meadows with no steep terrain above or connected to where you're traveling.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
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Special Announcements
Big thanks to Mike Poulsen and the great crew at Tri-City Performance for hosting last nights Avy Moto 101
Stay tuned for more details regarding our next Sled Avy 101 in February.
Weather and Snow
A moist, yet weak storm system sheared apart over the region late yesterday, only delivering a trace to an inch of snow in the past 24 hours. Temperatures are warm and in the low to mid 20's. Winds are light and variable, though generally from the north, blowing 10-20 mph along the high peaks. Low elevation terrain and sunny aspects took on heat the past few days and are crusted, but there's still plenty of cold, shallow snow on wind sheltered, shady slopes.
Above is hourly data from Chalk Creek (9,169') along with recent wind data from Windy Peak (10,662'). To view more regional weather stations click here.
Recent Avalanches
Thanks to DJ for reporting this slide in the image above. Triggered Wednesday on an upper elevation, southeast facing slope on the south half of the range near Co-op, where the snowpack remains weak and shallow. DJ says..."rode up through a meadow next to this and remote triggered it." In addition, there was no shortage of human triggered slides the past few days including a couple close calls, but fortunately everyone has come out on top. Please... let's keep it that way.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
The New Years storm roared in with a bang, delivering 18" of new snow, coupled with strong winds. That combo brought dormant, persistent weak layers back to life, particularly in terrain where the snowpack is thin and weak and a relatively widespread avalanche cycle ensued. Much like all things snow related, overtime the pack adjusted to the rapid change and is now becoming comfortable in its own skin.
However, we are from "green light, ride it if it's white" conditions.
Remember- "persistent weak layers" in the snowpack are a headache because 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 deep, dangerous avalanche. The usual suspects come to mind- steep, rocky terrain and slopes that have already avalanched this year. In addition, periphery terrain where the pack has remained shallow all season should be considered guilty until proven otherwise. Another wild card to add to the deck is the possibility of triggering an avalanche low on the slope.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Wind drifts relaxed significantly in the past few days and in most terrain they're tired and lifeless. However, the Uintas are a big place and I wouldn't let my guard down just yet. Found mostly along the leeward side of mid and upper elevation ridges, recent strong winds also cross-loaded snow around terrain features like chutes and gullies. In any case, look for and avoid any fat, rounded piece of snow especially if it sounds hollow like a drum.
Recent winds even penetrated low elevation terrain, forming drifts on steep, leeward slopes. You can get a good handle on the avy hazard close to the trailhead and make solid riding decisions based on your observations. Shooting cracks and small avalanches on road cuts like pictured in the image above, is a huge red flag and great indicator of unstable snow.
Additional Information
High pressure builds over the region, bringing clearing skies, temperatures rising into the upper 20's, along with light northerly winds. Quiet weather is on tap through the weekend and then a few weak impulses slide through the region beginning early next week. Nothing big on tap, but perhaps enough new snow over the course of a few days for a shallow reset.
General Announcements
The information in this advisory expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 7:00 AM Saturday January 12th, 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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