Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Wednesday, March 16, 2022
CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger exists today. Dangerously deep, human triggered avalanches remain likely on all slopes (even well below treeline) facing NW, N, NE, and E, especially those with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Any avalanche that breaks to old snow has the potential to deliver a devastating curve ball to your day.
A different avalanche dragon is found on slopes facing west and south near and above treeline where recent storm snow and shallow wind drifts may react to our additional weight. MODERATE avalanche danger is found on steep slopes where human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE.
Looking for LOW avalanche danger? Well, then you've got plenty of options. Simply steer towards mid and lower elevation sunny slopes or choose a big, open meadow with no steep slopes above or adjacent to where you're riding.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Weather and Snow
A nearly full, Crow Moon, peaks through high clouds early this morning, casting bright light on a fresh coat of white paint in our mountains. Nothing to get too excited over, just 3" of snow with about .20" H2O. Temperatures register in the teens and mid 20's. Southwest winds blew into the 30's and 40's until early this morning, switched to the northwest and have mellowed, blowing just 5-15 mph even near the high peaks. Strong sunshine and heat have taken their toll on the snow surface, but cold, soft settled snow is still found on wind sheltered, shady slopes.
Look for mostly cloudy skies and scattered snow showers as another piece of energy slides across the region later this morning, stacking up a couple more inches of snow. Northwest winds remain well behaved, averaging in the teens near the ridges while high temperatures climb into the low 30's.
Warm, dry weather is slated to round out the work week with storminess returning Sunday.
A forecaster in his element yesterday, our main man Ted Scroggin out in front, breaking trail and evaluating snowpack and avy conditions. Ted works his tail off and is the glue that holds this program together. So the next time you see him, please reach out with a fist bump, chest bump, or just lend a high five to express your gratitude.
Trip reports and snowpack observations are found HERE.

Looking for real-time temps, snow, or wind? Click HERE and then on the "western Uinta" tab for western Uinta specific, weather station network.
Recent Avalanches
No new avalanche activity to report from Tuesday, but there was no shortage of both natural and human triggered avalanches reported last weekend-

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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
What makes this situation tricky is the snowpack layering seen in the image above.
We've got an unusual, late season, set up... strong snow on top of weak snow that formed during the mid winter drought. And the weak layer is easily failing under our additional weight and will continue producing deep, dangerous avalanches today. Like a layer of dominoes with stronger snow resting on top, once our skis or track tip the first domino, it sets off a chain reaction in which all the dominoes (PWL) collapse. It's sorta like pulling the rug out from underneath, and the entire roof crashes down on us! Here's where it gets tricky... we don't even need to be on a steep slope, just near or connected to it (at the top, bottom, or to the side). Tip one of the dominoes over and now we're staring down the barrel of a scary avalanche!
What's the exit strategy? There are two options. Ride southerly facing slopes that don't have this weak layer, but offer crusty snow and a much thinner snowpack. Terrain facing the north half of the compass offers a deeper snowpack and cold powder, but likely harbor dangerous PWL and are unstable. In those areas, simply ride slopes less than 30 degrees in steepness with no overhead hazard... and that means nothing steeper above you.
Some recent thoughts from boots on the ground-
"I can’t remember a time that I’ve seen more red flags in one ride. We observed widespread cracking and collapsing. Avalanches were easily triggered on any test slope steeper than 30 degrees. Snowpro, avy educator extraordinaire,Wasatch SAR member, pro sledder, and all around great guy Tyler St. Jeor states it best in his comment from Saturday.
"We were fooled by old tracks and a lack of signs of instability" (which is the nature of avalanches that fracture on persistent weak layers of facets.) Family involved in Saturday's close call near Humpy Peak
I'm still thinking through the incident and lessons to share but 2 critical errors that stand out to me are: I thought that I could manage the terrain to avoid the avalanche problem. I thought that the most likely place to trigger the avalanche would be high up on the slope and close to the ridge in one of the primary start zones. Snowpro and avy educator with a solid snow sense and impressive acumen, my friend and colleague Bo Torrey reflects on yesterday's avalanche in Upper Weber Canyon
Mark visited Saturday's close call near Humpy Peak and has an excellent viddy and accident description above.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
A few fresh wind drifts formed yesterday and overnight. Pretty straight-forward and found mostly on leeward slopes in the wind zone above treeline, also be on the look out for a rogue drift or two around terrain features like chutes and gullies. The good news, it's an easy avalanche dragon to manage. Simply avoid fresh wind drifts that'll look fat and rounded or might sound hollow like a drum. Lose the wind and you lose the problem.
Additional Information
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
The information in this forecast expires 24 hours after the day and time posted, but will be updated by 07:00 Thursday, March 17th.
Before it gets too crazy, now is the time to book an avalanche awareness presentation for your group, club, or posse. You can reach me 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.