Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Craig Gordon
Issued by Craig Gordon on
Monday morning, March 28, 2022
Near and above treeline CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger exists. Human triggered avalanches failing on the midwinter drought layer (PWL) and breaking several feet deep are LIKELY and natural avalanches POSSIBLE, especially on slopes facing the north half of the compass. MODERATE avalanche danger is found below treeline and human triggered avalanches breaking to this weak layer are POSSIBLE.
Cloud cover and winds should put a lid on wet avalanche activity. But if the sun comes out for any length of time the avalanche danger rises to MODERATE. Small and predictable damp slides and sluffs come to life and human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE on steep sun exposed slopes.

Scroll to the bottom for a note on slope angle and how to have a blast without entering avalanche terrain.
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Special Announcements
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Weather and Snow
March madness continues over the region and a prolonged warm before the storm delivers overnight low temperatures that hover in the upper 30's. You want winds? Well, we got 'em and they're blowing in the 40's and 50's along the high ridges. Riding and turning conditions took a hard hit yesterday and the snow surface has been yanked all over the place. But don't let your cold snow heart be troubled... with a storm on the doorstep, take advantage of a down day, get your chores done, and tomorrow you'll be rewarded with a thin coat of white paint that'll soften the blow of a rapidly dwindling winter.
Expect thickening clouds with snow showers developing late this afternoon. High temperatures climb into the upper 40's and yes, southwest winds blowing to near 60 mph will be a nuisance along the high ridges.
Tonight's storm delivers a couple inches of snow and cooler temperatures. Look for a break in the action early Tuesday with another round of storminess and an additional 3"-6" of snow expected during the day. High pressure briefly moves in for Wednesday with the potential for another system on Thursday and unsettled weather slated to round out the work week.
Ouch... mud season has hit the trailheads. However, with a little hunting you can still find hot pow on upper elevation north facing slopes and I think a short-lived window of supportability exists on the sunny terrain, but it's gonna go fast today.
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 significant avy activity to report from yesterday, but the image above from Friday illustrates the type of avalanche dragon we're dealing with.

Your input is vital and we're interested in what you're seeing. Please contribute to this great community resource and go here to fill out an observation.
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Ted discovered this well connected piece of snow on the lower east nose of the Humpy ridge that was triggered in the past few days. More on Ted's insight and travels found HERE
A persistent weak layer (PWL) of sugary, faceted snow is buried 1-3 feet deep. I know... I know... it's hard to believe that this layer is still alive and well, lurking in the snowpack, despite such warm weather. When you see it and feel it, it's almost shocking just how dry and loose it is (like a layer of shugga... baby :) But wait... there's more! The snowpack continues to show us that this layer will fracture and produce avalanches.
Where does it exist? It is widespread on NW-N-NE-E facing slopes near and slightly below treeline. Above treeline in alpine terrain, it's distribution is more pockety.
What will the warm weather do? For now, "all bets are off" and conditions remain dangerous. In the long run, the warmth will help this layer slowly heal. The wild card is if there's enough heat to melt snow and cause liquid water to percolate down to this layer, then natural avalanches begin peeling away from steep slopes. Or maybe we roll up on our sled, skis, or board at just the right moment and we're able to pull the rug out from underneath. In either case... no bueno.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wet Snow
Cloud cover and winds should put a lid on wet snow avalanche activity. However, if the sun peaks out for any length of time look for the snow surface to turn damp and the possibility of wet slides and sluffs increases.
Look for rollerballs cascading downhill with increasing frequency as a sign of unstable snow. Typically they happen near exposed rocks or cliffs that absorb extra heat from the sun and reradiate that heat into the surrounding snow.
Additional Information
Slope angle determines where avalanches can happen and where they can't. Generally, any slope steeper than 30 degrees is where avalanches occur. This means all you need to do is ride slopes less than 30 degrees in steepness and you'll never have to deal with avalanches.
There's a catch! You can't be underneath slopes steeper than 30 degrees either, even if you're on a flat slope, because avalanches can crash down on you. It turns out that skiing or riding slopes about 25 degrees in steepness is really fun and even more fun because there's no worry of avalanches. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of practice to estimate slope angles with your eyes alone. The way to get practice and the only way to know for sure is to measure slope angles with slope measuring tool shown in the photo below, and Toby describes it in this video. There are also many apps so that you can use your phone in a similar manner.

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 Tuesday, March 29th.
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.