Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 3:14am
DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS EXIST ON THE EASTERN FRONT-
In the wind zone, at and above treeline, the avalanche danger is HIGH. Both human triggered and natural avalanches are LIKELY on steep wind drifted slopes, especially those facing the north half of the compass. Any avalanche that breaks into deeper buried weak layers near the ground will result in a scary and very dangerous avalanche that will instantly ruin your day.
You'll find CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger on steep, mid elevation, wind drifted slopes and human triggered avalanches are PROBABLE.
Strong winds have created unusual avalanche conditions in low elevation terrain where a MODERATE avalanche danger exists. Human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE on steep slopes near our trailheads, foothills, and possibly our own backyards.
It's eerie out there, but it doesn't mean we can't ride. Choose gentle terrain or big, open meadows with no steep terrain above, adjacent, or connected to where you're traveling. In other words.... simply stay off of and out from under steep, wind drifted slopes.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
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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 6 AM THURSDAY
* AFFECTED AREA...WASATCH MOUNTAINS SOUTH OF I-80, THE WESTERN UINTA MOUNTAINS, AND THE MANTI SKYLINE.
* AVALANCHE DANGER...THE AVALANCHE DANGER IS HIGH TODAY.
* REASON/IMPACTS...HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS ARE CREATING WIDESPREAD AREAS OF UNSTABLE SNOW AT MID AND UPPER ELEVATIONS. HUMAN TRIGGERED AND NATURAL AVALANCHES ARE LIKELY. STAY OFF OF AND OUT FROM UNDER SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES. TRAVELING IN AVALANCHE TERRAIN IS NOT RECOMMENDED.
Weather and Snow
Skies are cloudy, temperatures in the single digits, and scattered snow showers continue stacking up fresh snow across the region. Yesterday's 4"-6" of new snow bumped storm totals to nearly 28" with just over 2" of water weight. After a slight break in the relentless southerly ridgetop winds, they began increasing around 1:00 this morning and currently blow 30-40 mph. Out of the wind and on low angle, lower elevations slopes, riding and turning conditions are excellent.
Above is hourly data from Trial Lake (9,945') and Windy Peak (10,662'). To view more regional weather stations click here.
Recent Avalanches
Dave and Bill were in Upper Weber Canyon and triggered this large pocket from a distance that broke 2'-4' deep, failing on weak snow in the midpack and then breaking to the dirt.
Recent trip reports and avy activity found HERE.
Ad
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Make no mistake... this is the real deal and not the type of avalanche problem that we want to tangle with or try to outsmart. With avalanches breaking deep and wide and taking out the entire seasons snowpack in some locations, avoidance is the only solution. This is the kind of setup where we see avalanches triggered mid slope, low on the slope, or from a distance. That's too much uncertainty for me to deal with so I'm keeping it simple. I'm choosing to follow my gut, my intuition, and my own forecast. I'm gonna stay off of and out from under steep, wind drifted slopes.
JG offers some sage advice.... "Patience is your best friend right now. Play the slope angle game and stay out of the wind zone. Low angle terrain out of the wind zone offers great riding right now even with the amount of new snow we've received." He goes on to say.... "If you're traveling in the wind zone on the north half of the compass the danger is high and you should expect avalanches." More on JG's travels in the Hoyt Peak area found here.
Here's your exit strategy-
Invoke your inner Marley and head over to Trenchtown (Rock :).... you can still get after it and avoid the avalanche dragon today in big open meadows with no steep terrain above or adjacent to where you're riding.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Even from the trailheads you can see winds have been cranking.
You know wind was invented in the Uintas and for days now, strong southerly winds have been nuking, penetrating all elevations, forming fresh drifts on just about every aspect of the compass. While most prevalent on the leeward side of mid and upper elevation ridges, drifting also occurred around terrain features like chutes, gullies, and sub-ridges. In addition, winds cranked even down low near the trailheads so expect to find fresh drifts in unusually low elevation terrain. In any case, today you'll want to look for and avoid any fat, rounded piece of snow, especially if it sounds hollow like a drum.
Remember... shooting cracks around or out in front of your skis, board, or sled is a sign of unstable snow and a huge red flag.
Additional Information
Great mountain weather synopsis from our friends at the NWS-
"The snow machine will continue to run for another 12-18 hours as a cold low pressure system moves overhead and eventually east of the area later today." Today, we can expect a shift in the winds as they veer to the northwest, blowing in the 30's and 40's before relaxing somewhat tonight. Snowfall tapers off throughout the day and temperatures crater to below zero tonight. High pressure builds for Thursday/Friday.
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 February 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 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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