Forecast for the Uintas Area Mountains

Issued by Craig Gordon for Monday, March 7, 2022
Recent snow and increased wind has our structurally challenged weak layers teetering on the edge.
Most pronounced near and above treeline, a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger is found where recent wind drifts rest on top of a pre-existing, weak layer of sugary snow. Human triggered slides breaking deeper and wider than you might expect are LIKELY, especially on steep, upper elevation slopes facing the north half of the compass and particularly those with an easterly component to their aspect.
Mid elevation terrain at treeline offers MODERATE avalanche danger and human triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE on steep, shady slopes.
Looking for LOW avalanche danger? Well then, you've got plenty of options. Simply lose some elevation, swing over to the south half of the compass or tag some lower elevation trailhead shots where human triggered avalanches are UNLIKELY.

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Weather and Snow
Skies begin to clear this morning as the last gasp of moisture adds an additional 3" of low density, chin tickling snow, bringing storm totals to just about 9" with .60" H2O. Temperatures cratered overnight, hovering in the single digits with ridgetops registering in negative territory early this morning. Add in a light west-northwest breeze and you've got windchill to -11 degrees. But wait... there's more! A little sunshine and recent storm snow deliver 5 star riding conditions and go a long way to stoke your powder fire within.
Look partly cloudy skies with temperatures struggling to climb into the low teens. West and northwest winds remain well-behaved, blowing less than 20 mph even near the high peaks. Overnight lows crash to negative territory.
A break in the action is slated for Tuesday morning with another potentially good shot of snow developing late in the day and lingering into Thursday. An additional foot of snow seems like a solid bet.
Trip reports and current state of the 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
Tyler St. Jeor's travels around Smith-Moorehouse yesterday revealed a tender snowpack with slabs starting to connect and breaking to the mid winter drought NSF layer.

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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Recent snowpit profiles show a fairly distinct heat crust formed on Friday (the warm before the storm) with our recent storm resting on top a weak, faceted snow basement.
Now... here's what's going on. You remember the midwinter drought of January and February? You're thinking, hmmm... vaguely. Well, while we might forget what we had for lunch yesterday (quinoa, fruit, pea protein powder :), the snowpack has an amazing memory and stores each weather event in its hard drive. And, those prolonged dry mid winter months created a persistent weak layer (PWL) of extremely fragile, sugary facets on the snow surface which were buried by very low density snow from two weeks ago. Despite nearly record breaking heat last week, the sugary layer remains cold, dry, and weak. This combo is found on mid and upper elevation slopes facing the north half of the compass along with a sliver of southeast facing terrain. This is our new problem child, especially where a cohesive slab rests on top. Mark commented... "To be honest, it's hard to believe how dry and weak this layer is until you see it and feel it with your own hands."
Here's where it gets tricky... large swaths of upper elevation terrain facing the north half of the compass were blasted by the winds prior to our recent storms and weak snow distribution is spotty at best. That means you'll need to evaluate each slope on an individual basis.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Above is a 24 hour data dump from Windy Peak (10,661') illustrating an uptick in Sunday's WNW winds.
Yesterday's wind had no problem whipping up a fresh round of drifts that'll be reactive to our additional weight today. Here's the curve ball... wind drifted snow stacks up on a variety of old snow surfaces and some are quite hard and slick. Any avalanche triggered on a sustained steep slope may run further and faster than you might expect. Something to consider if you're tagging a big, technical line.
Additional Information
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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 8th.
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.