Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Friday, February 8, 2019 - 3:10am
In the wind zone, at and above treeline, the avalanche danger is HIGH. Human triggered 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 very scary, dangerous, and quite possibly unsurvivable 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.
Yes, it's still sketchy 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.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
Sad news to report-
One snowmobiler is missing in an avalanche east of Beaver, UT near Circleville Mountain. The missing person is not wearing a transceiver. SAR operations will be underway Friday morning. More details to follow as they develop.
Weather and Snow
Skies are clear and temperatures cratered overnight to negative territory where they hover near -5 degrees this morning. South and southwest winds bumped into the mid and upper 20's around 2:00 this morning. Wind chill values along the high ridges register to -22 degrees. Get out of the wind and into the sun today and head to low angle, lower elevation slopes, where 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
Multiple slides reported across the range once viz become more reasonable yesterday.
The image above taken from across the valley in Upper Weber Canyon looking north, reveals a large natural pocket occurring sometime during the storm, failing to weak snow near the ground and then filling in with snow and wind.
JG found this large avy which he suspects ran naturally Tuesday the 5th. Releasing on a steep, northwest aspect at 10,000' in elevation and piling huge blocks of bone snapping debris into the trees... looks like this slide failed somewhere in the midpack and then broke to the ground. More on this slide here.
And finally, this slide above occurred yesterday in Smith-Moorehouse where Weston D reports.... "Today was one of those days where we realized how lucky we got. While we were very aware of what was overhead, we didn't think we were in danger. This ripped out about 1/2 hr-45min after we skinned by it. This slide covered our skin track. It would not have buried us, but it would have for sure knocked us over or roughed us up in passing. Sobering."
Recent trip reports and avy activity found HERE.
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Nothing has changed on this front since yesterday and today's avalanche dragon still has a dangerously subtle personality. And no, it's not like the loud obnoxious guy at the office party who's terribly obvious or in your face... and that's what concerns me most about our current setup. Problem is... I don't think you'll see big, deep crowns or much evidence of a widespread avalanche cycle. As a matter of fact, I think many slopes avalanched during the big storm and then got filled back in by wind and snow, making it difficult to determine which slopes slid and which remain intact just waiting for us to come along and knock the legs out from underneath. So we're essentially missing one of the biggest clues to avalanches... and that's avalanches!
It's gonna be tricky because we can ride some slopes without incident, thinking we're good to go, but roll up to steep, wind drifted terrain that didn't slide and now we're staring down the barrel of a dangerous avalanche. However, here's what I do know and 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. Today's avalanches could still potentially be triggered mid slope, low on the slope, or from a distance. Once initiated, they'll break deep and wide and could take out the entire seasons snowpack in some locations, resulting in a potentially unsurvivable slide. That's too much uncertainty for me to deal with so I'm keeping it simple... patience and avoidance are the only solution. I'm simply gonna ride low angle terrain in the sun and avoid being on or under steep, wind drifted slopes.
JG offers a beautifully detailed snowpit profile whilst offering 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."
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Winds were all over the compass during the big storm and drifts formed in unusual locations. 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
Southwesterly flow develops ahead of an approaching weather system which crosses the area Saturday afternoon through Saturday evening. In the meantime, expect mostly sunny skies with temperatures rising into the low 20's and overnight lows dipping into the single digits. South and southwest winds blow in the 20's and 30's, with a few gusts near 40 mph along the high peaks. Increasing clouds with scattered snow is on tap for Saturday afternoon, and then a strong cold front is expected to bring a round of heavy snowfall late Sunday afternoon into Sunday night
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 February 9th, 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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