Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Ogden Area Mountains Issued by Paige Pagnucco for Friday - December 23, 2016 - 5:22am
bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today at upper elevations. Heightened avalanche conditions exist where triggering a wind slab or a deeper persistent slab avalanche remains possible. The danger is generally LOW at the low and mid elevations but there may be isolated areas where triggered wind slabs are possible.

Low danger does not mean NO danger. Practice safe travel protocols and re-evaluate your route if you encounter signs of instability.

Pay careful attention to rapidly changing avalanche conditions due to wind loading, especially during the afternoon hours.




special announcement

Discount lift tickets for Beaver Mountain, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and the Central Wasatch resorts are now available, donated by the resorts to benefit the Utah Avalanche Center. Details and order information here. These make a great holiday gift and all proceeds go towards paying for avalanche forecasting and education!

current conditions

Temperatures in the mountains this morning are in the mid teens. Winds are blowing 10-20 mph with gusts on the ridges around 25 mph from the southwest. Riding conditions are nothing to write home about. Yesterday on Cutler Ridge we found a desperately hard snow surface at all elevations, otherwise known as "dust on crust." The turning was loud and unforgiving, particularly on steeper slopes. There might be some soft snow hiding on isolated, sheltered slopes but you'll have to look hard, at least in that zone. The "dust" or few inches of near-surface faceted snow, will potentially be the new weak layer as a promising weekend storm arriving tonight is forecasted to bring 1-3 feet of snow to the mountains.

If you are heading out to snowmobile, you might find similar conditions. If you get on too steep a slope, your track may not find enough purchase on the hard snow surface to protect you from a potential "slide for life" situation. Take a minute to hop off your sled and check surface conditions before you get too exposed.

We appreciate getting your observations. If you see or trigger an avalanche or just have a general observation, please submit it here.

Wind affected slope on Cutler Ridge.

recent activity

Yesterday, avalanche reduction teams reported that small soft slab avalanches released on ski cuts. The most recent reported avalanche in the Ogden area backcountry occurred on Tuesday when an observer on Ben Lomond Peak watched a small avalanche happen in front of him, 50 ft wide and 1 foot deep at 7000 feet.

(PC: B. Smith)

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Earlier in the week, winds blowing from the SW created many hard slabs in the Ogden area mountains. In some places these hard, wind slabs have bonded to the underlying snow with the help of recent warm temperatures. In other places they may rest on weak, faceted snow crystals as was observed on Tuesday on Ben Lomond Peak. This variation makes stability assessments tricky and the best travel advice is to avoid these wind slabs in steep terrain as they can be deceptive and stubborn, waiting until you are out on them before they fail.

Observers yesterday also noted some mid-slope cross loading. Watch for newly-formed wind slabs near terrain features such as sub-ridges and outcroppings. The potential for wind loading may increase this afternoon as pre-frontal wind speeds increase.

Avalanche Problem 2
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Buried faceted layers create persistent slab avalanches so this type of avalanche problem can last for a long time. Without loading from recent snow or wind blown snow, this type of avalanche problem becomes harder to trigger and obvious signs of instability are not present. It's worth getting the saw and shovel out and performing stability tests in different areas to check for these weaknesses.

There's a slim chance of triggering a very large avalanche like one that happened on Monday in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Birthday Chutes. A similar avalanche that occurred naturally last weekend was spotted by an observer near Bountiful Peak. These deep slab avalanches are rare but deadly events. They can occur high elevations where snow existed in early and mid November.

weather

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning beginning at 8pm this evening and lasting through Monday morning. The mountains in the Ogden area could see 1-3 feet of snow along with strong gusty winds over the holiday weekend.

Today will have some clouds and sun with temperatures rising near 30 degrees F. Southwesterly winds will blow 10-20 mph and get a bit stronger in the afternoon ahead of the incoming storm.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911. Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

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Ski Utah mobile snow updates

To those skinning uphill at resorts: it is critical to know the resort policy on uphill travel. You can see the uphill travel policy for each resort here.

Benefit the Utah Avalanche Center when you shop from Backcountry.com or REI: Click this link for Backcountry.com or this link to REI, shop, and they will donate a percent of your purchase price to the UAC. Both offer free shipping (with some conditions) so this costs you nothing!

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always exist.