Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Friday, November 30, 2018 - 3:23am
In the wind zone at and above treeline, especially on slopes facing the north half of the compass the avalanche danger is HIGH. Human triggered avalanches are VERY LIKELY on any slope harboring old snow near the ground.
Steep, mid elevation terrain facing the north half of the compass offers CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger and human triggered avalanches are LIKELY.
In either case- dangerous avalanche conditions exist and any slide triggered could have severe consequences.
Lose the old snow... you lose the problem and the avalanche danger drops dramatically.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
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Weather and Snow
Yesterday's slug of moisture delivered an evenly distributed shot of snow with a solid 10" stacking up across the range. Southwest winds bumped into 30's and 40's for a short time late yesterday, but shifted to the west early this morning and currently blow in the teens along the high peaks. Currently, temperatures are in the mid teens and low 20's. Riding and turning conditions improve with each little blast of snow, but remain largely limited to low angle, rock free meadows and road rides.
We are working to get the entire Uinta weather network back online. In the meantime, above is 24 hour data from Trail Lake (9945') and Windy Peak (10,662')
The image above clearly illustrates a savvy group that got their turns in while avoiding the avy hazard. Looks pretty straight-forward, but here's the problem... as snow stacks up and terrain terrain turns white, even slopes we're familiar with can appear uniform and small nuances in aspect can mean the difference between riding safely and triggering an avalanche. So here's your exit strategy.... just like the crew above, simply swing around to south facing slopes or lower elevation terrain which had no old snow prior to the big storm and you can ride without the worry of avalanches breaking to weak snow near the ground.
Recent Avalanches
Visibility was less than zero, but backcountry riders report lots of cracking and collapsing yesterday... huge red flags to unstable snow.
Looks like Micheal J busted out a dusk patrol and reported very tender conditions. More on his travels found here.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
This weeks snow and water totals are starting to stack up and there's some great riding to be had. However, this additional load is beginning to tease the strength of our early season snowpack. While it's encouraging to see the pack grow and develop, we've gotta think not only about the snow we're riding in, but also the snow we're riding on and we know it's structure is questionable. As a matter of fact, recent backcountry observations of cracking and collapsing are huge clues verifying our suspicions.
Remember, a lot of weather has happened in the past few weeks- in most locations we doubled our total snowpack since Thanksgiving Day and yes, we finally have some terrain to ride. Unfortunately, riding and turning options are still very limited with the deepest snow found on mid and upper elevation slopes facing the north half of the compass. But here's the problem... that's exactly the type of terrain that harbors weak snow near the ground and that's exactly where we could still trigger an avalanche that breaks deeper and wider than we might expect. The end result is an unmanageable slide that gets quickly out of hand, dragging us through as it a myriad of hidden obstacles like stumps and rocks that will easily ruin your day or end your season. So, I'm playing it safe with conservative terrain choices and by riding slopes that had no old snow prior to the big storm.
Plowing is done on Mirror Lake Highway, but Wolf Creek Pass is still open. However, just 'cause you can see your rig parked near Wolf Creek, doesn't mean the terrain you're choosing to ride is good to go.
Remember- this is the time of year where most of us get tricked thinking there isn't enough snow to avalanche. However, this is also the type of setup when most close calls and accidents occur. If you are getting out and about, be prepared for your own self rescue. Wear and know how to use an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Yesterday's west and southwest winds coupled with fresh snow, formed a fresh batch of wind drifts sensitive to our additional weight. Found mostly on steep mid and upper elevation leeward slopes, as always, don't let your guard down. Be on the lookout for and avoid any fat, rounded piece of snow especially if it sounds hollow like a drum. (Michael Janulaitis photo)
Additional Information
There's a couple pieces of energy still waiting to slide through the region. A break in the action is slated for this morning, but things get going again later in the day as cold, unstable air moves into the region. Look for an additional 6"-8" of new snow by this time tomorrow morning. Today's high temperatures reach into the upper 20's and winds shift to the northwest later today, bumping into the 30's along the high peaks. Another break is on tap for early Saturday with cold, unsettled weather through early next week.
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 December 1st, 2018.
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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