In Utah, we rarely get excited about 6 to 10 inches of snow, with a ½ inch of water weight. But rarely do we have such a weak snowpack, made up of extremely fragile faceted crystals with a few ice crusts and thin hard wind slabs thrown in. We are now developing a slab on our weak layer – maybe not enough snow to produce a widespread natural cycle, but enough snow that the additional weight of a person can trigger avalanches.
· Avalanches can be triggered on the shady, steep northwest, north, northeast and easterly facing slopes, 1 to 2 feet deep and over 200’ wide. Natural avalanches may occur.
· Slides can be triggered remotely from a distance today - do not cross below steep terrain and avoid terrain adjacent to steep slopes.
· Once moving, any avalanche will gouge and entrain the loose, weak snow, and debris piles will be much deeper than one would expect.
· Don’t be fooled by the old wind hammered snow right along ridgelines – the weakest snow and trigger points may be off the ridges, allowing avalanches release mid slope and break out above you.
· The recent crusts and wind slabs may support a bit more snow weight before breaking, but result in a deeper, wider slide.
· Snow may also roll off of and pool beneath cliffs and at the base of gullies, and slides could break out on lower angle slopes in these heavily loaded areas.
· Snow pack is still shallow, and any ride in an avalanche could result in both trauma and burial.
· Recent avalanches, cracking or collapsing (a whoomphing noise) are red flags – the snow pack is unstable - stay off and out from under steep slopes.