Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Sunday, January 6, 2019 - 3:22am
Heads up-
The avalanche danger has changed in the past 24 hours and dangerous avalanche conditions are beginning to materialize.
In the wind zone, at and above treeline the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE. Human triggered avalanches are LIKELY and natural avalanches POSSIBLE on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Any avalanche triggered in steep, rocky terrain has the potential to quickly get out of hand if it breaks into deeper buried weak layers near the ground.
MODERATE avalanche danger is found on steep, wind drifted slopes at mid elevations, especially in terrain facing the north half of the compass.
If you're looking for LOW avalanche danger, simply head to big open meadows with no steep terrain above or connected to where you're riding.
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Weather and Snow
Snow developed late last night delivering just an inch or two, but a nice looking storm is starting to materialize and should arrive on the eastern front by sunrise. A thick layer of clouds blankets the region this morning and temperatures are in the teens and mid 20's. Southerly winds have cranked in the 30's and 40's along the high peaks since yesterday morning and are expected to remain strong for a good portion of the day. Until a little more snow stacks up, the old snow surface is a mixed bag of hard old tracks and wind funk from earlier in the week. If you are getting on the snow, wind sheltered terrain is the place to be today.
Above is recent hourly data from Trial Lake (9,945') along with wind data from Windy Peak (10,662'). To view more regional weather stations click here.
Recent Avalanches
No news of any significant avalanche activity.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
The avalanche danger is ramping up and todays most obvious avalanche dragon are freshly formed wind drifts. These are most prominent along the leeward side of upper elevation ridges and around terrain features like chutes and gullies. Once the storm gets going, I anticipate fresh drifts will become more widespread and connected and may easily break deeper than you might expect. You're gonna have to be on your "A" game today, so look for cracking out in front of your skis, board, or sled which are obvious red flags and big clues to unstable snow. Also, look for and avoid any fat, rounded piece of snow especially if it sounds hollow like a drum.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
We may not be there just yet, but I think today's strong winds coupled with dense, heavy snow will help bring our persistent weak layers back to life, particularly where the snowpack is thin and weak. The usual suspect terrain comes to mind- steep, rocky slopes with a shallow snowpack, periphery terrain where the snowpack has remained shallow so far this season, and slopes that already avalanched earlier this year.
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're getting worked by a large piece of moving of snow. So how do you avoid triggering an avalanche that breaks close to the ground? It's easy... simply avoid the terrain where this setup exists. Done... and done :)
Above... a viddy from late last week along a pit profile from the south half of the range illustrating a suspect snowpack structure. The big red flag I see is periphery terrain that remains shallow and weak as shown by the structure in areas like Race Track Bowl. Thanks to Tyler St.Joer for the solid ob and info. More on his travels from yesterday here.
Additional Information
Snow gets going in earnest this morning, continuing through the day with 6"-10" expected before this first wave of weather slides to the east by about dinnertime. Winds shift to the southwest and then west later in the day, remaining in the 30's and 40's, before diminishing late in the day. High temperatures rise into the mid 20's. After a short-lived break in the action slated for late today, another system is on tap to arrive for tonight into Monday, delivering strong winds and additional 6"-8" of snow.
General Announcements
The information in this advisory expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 7:00 AM Monday January 7th, 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 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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