Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Wednesday, January 9, 2019 - 3:18am
Heads up- don't let the warm sunshine lull you into a false sense of complacency... it's still the real deal out there today and dangerous avalanche conditions exist.
In the wind zone, at and above treeline the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE. Human triggered avalanches are LIKELY 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 scary, dangerous, and possibly unsurvivable avalanche.
MODERATE avalanche danger is found on steep, wind drifted slopes at mid elevations, and human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE in terrain facing the north half of the compass.
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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Weather and Snow
Under partly cloudy skies, temperatures are in the low to mid 20's. Southeast winds bumped into the 20's and 30's late yesterday afternoon along the high ridges and have been blowing steadily overnight.
The weekend storm was good to the eastern front, delivering a solid 12"-18" across the the range.
Low elevation terrain and sunny aspects took on some heat yesterday, but there's still plenty of cold deep snow on wind sheltered, shady slopes.
Above is hourly data from Trial Lake (9,945') along with recent wind data from Windy Peak (10,662'). To view more regional weather stations click here.
Ted and Mark were out yesterday doing it right, sticking with low angle terrain and still having a blast. If you're looking for an exit strategy today, simply steer toward big, open meadows with no steep slopes above or connected to where you're riding. And here's the bonus round... you'll be rewarded with deep, cold snow.
Recent Avalanches
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
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Winds were all over the place during and right after the storm and there's no shortage of snow available to blow around and form fresh drifts that'll remain reactive to our additional weight today. 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, and drifted snow lower downslope than we usually expect. In any case, fresh drifts are quite connected and may easily break deeper and wider than you might expect. You're gonna have to be on your toes 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, 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.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Our recent storm ushered strong winds coupled with dense, heavy snow. That combo brought dormant, persistent weak layers back to life, particularly in terrain where the snowpack is thin and weak. 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. Avoidance is the name of the game today.... simply avoid being on or under steep wind drifted slopes.
A local sledder describes the setup and a recently triggered slide near Tower Mountain.
Additional Information
High pressure gives us partly cloudy skies with temperatures warming into the upper 30's. Southerly winds are gonna be a nuisance, blowing in the 30's and 40's along the high ridges. Cloudy skies, cooler temperatures, and a few flurries are on tap for Thursday.
General Announcements
The information in this advisory expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 7:00 AM Thursday January 10th, 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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