Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Craig Gordon
Issued by Craig Gordon for
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Expect rising avalanche danger and sketchy conditions as a solid shot of snow, water, and wind slams into the region-
HIGH avalanche danger exists on steep, upper elevation leeward slopes, especially those in the wind zone facing the north half of the compass. Both new and older wind drifted slopes are suspect with human triggered and natural avalanches VERY LIKELY, particularly on slopes with an easterly component to their aspect. CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger is found on mid elevation, shady slopes, where strong wind whips up stiff drifts sensitive to our additional weight and human triggered avalanches are LIKELY. Today's storm snow coupled with robust wind creates MODERATE avalanche danger at lower elevations. Human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.
If you're looking for LOW avalanche danger, remember the Uinta's have plenty of low angle, roly-poly terrain. Human triggered avalanches are UNLIKELY on most lower elevation slopes facing the south half of the compass.

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Special Announcements
I am currently working with the operation involved in the March 9th avalanche accident in Weber Canyon and preparing a report. Please be patient as I sort out the details of this complicated incident. A preliminary report is available HERE.
Weather and Snow
Nowcast- Dang... the warm before the storm brings ripping winds to the City of Salt and creates a restless nights sleep as I found myself anxious to get to work... even earlier than my usual o'dark thirty earliness. Of course, if garbage can tipping winds are peppering the valley, we know the ridges are getting blasted and it turns out the theory holds true. Southerly winds began increasing just as the school crossing guards finished Tuesday's morning shift and have been raking the ridges all night, blowing in the 30's and 40's with gusts to 50 mph near the high peaks. Clouds slide into the northwest corner of the state early this morning and temperatures are balmy, hovering in the mid 30's near the trailheads and mid 20's along the ridges. The snow surface has taken a hard hit and it's a good day to get morning chores done, wait for fresh snow to stack up, and perhaps consider a dusk patrol.
Forecast- The storm is on our doorstep and it's gonna get wet and wild in the next couple hours. Expect continued strong winds, warm temperatures, and dense heavy snow to develop before sunrise. Southwest winds are gonna be burly, but shift to the west and decrease as they turn northwesterly this afternoon. A solid shot of snow stacks up quickly and I'm hedging my bets on 10" of snow by late in the day.
Futurecast- As the storm winds down later today we'll see skies trend toward clearing overnight. Thursday and Friday offer spectacular days with warming temperatures heading into the end of the work week. Weak storminess slides through the area this weekend and it looks like a solid slug of moisture is in the queue for the middle of next week!
Our good friends at the Salt Lake NWS issued a Winter Storm Warning giving us a heads up on today's storm timing and duration.
Detailed trip reports and recent obs are found HERE.
Recent Avalanches
We're still taking inventory of all the recent natural avalanche activity that was driven by last Friday's storm, but a common theme is... steep, wind drifted, terrain with an east aspect to its orientation around the range came to life with many large avalanches breaking deep and wide. (like this slide in Upper Chalk Creek)
But wait, there's more... plenty of avy activity to peruse if ya wanna geek out. Click HERE to track this years slide activity throughout the range.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Strong winds coupled with dense, heavy, storm snow will reveal any weaknesses in our snowpack structure. Once triggered, I think today's avalanches have the potential to break deep and wide. There's no reason to mess around and pull the avalanche dragon's tail today, because the bite is gonna be more devastating than the bark. Today, simply stay off of and out from under steep, wind drifted slopes and make sure you're not connected to any overhead hazard.

Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Fresh storm snow stacks up fast and furiously and it'll react to our additional weight. As snow piles up be aware of steep slopes above and adjacent to where you're traveling. As the storm materializes, unusual avalanche conditions develop at lower elevations. So... think about the terrain you're moving through in our foothills and nearby trailheads.
Additional Information
Weather stations-
And... rime events from January's atmospheric rivers severely crippled the Uinta weather station network. I'm working to get it back up and running, but a few stations are found HERE (click weather stations, and then on the Western Uinta tab)
Your observations are important, so please let me know what you're seeing... click HERE and contribute to this amazing community-based program
General Announcements
Issued at 03:17 on Wednesday March 15th this forecast expires 24 hours after the date and time posted, but will be updated by 07:00 Thursday March 16th 2023.
Before it gets too crazy, now is the time to book an avalanche awareness presentation for your group, club, or posse. You can reach Craig directly at 801-231-2170 or [email protected].

This forecast is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.