Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Ogden Area Mountains Issued by Mark Staples for Wednesday - December 28, 2016 - 5:36am
bottom line

Today the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on upper elevation, wind loaded slopes. Wind slabs are not the only concern. In places there is a weak, faceted layer of snow near an ice crust making avalanches possible and the danger MODERATE at mid elevations. At elevations below 7000 feet, the avalanche danger is LOW.




current conditions

Strong winds from yesterday continue this morning blowing westerly 15-20 mph gusting 40 mph with stronger winds in places like Ogden Peak. Under cloudy skies, temperatures are mostly in the low 20's F with a few snowflakes falling but not accumulating.

recent activity

Explosives and ski cuts triggered wind slabs at ski areas yesterday up to 3 feet thick. Some were stubborn while some were very easy to trigger. Skiers on Ben Lomond Peak triggered many fresh wind slabs yesterday 1-2 feet deep including a few that were remotely triggered or released sympathetically when they triggered another slide (observation, avalanche1, avalanche2, avalanche3). These are major red flags. Remotely triggered avalanches are ones triggered from some distance without being on the slope that avalanches.

Another slide was intentionally triggered by a skier in the southern end of Cache Valley near Paradise at 7900 feet. It broke 1 foot deep and 300 feet wide on facets near an ice crust on a non-wind loaded slope.

Photo below of a slide that a skier triggered on Ben Lomond Peak while descending lower angle terrain adjacent to the slide path (photo D. DeBruin & B. Bauter).

See the video (D. DeBruin & B. Bauter) showing these slides and winds yesterday on Ben Lomond Peak.

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

Strong winds have blown from the SW and W and may start shifting to the NW by the end of today. These winds transported snow yesterday and overnight forming many fresh wind slabs. Conditions today may be more tricky than yesterday because some wind slabs will be stubborn while others will remain easy to trigger. Wind slabs that were breaking on low density snow should start stabilizing today. Some were breaking near an ice crust buried about a foot deep. In places this ice crust may have small, faceted snow crystals either above or below it. These faceted crystals combined with continued strong winds will keep some wind slabs very sensitive today.

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

There is a rain/ice crust buried about a foot deep that has facets either above or below it. A skier near north Ogden Pass found this layering between 7000 and 8000 feet. A skier intentionally triggered a slide on this layering near Paradise, UT at 7900 feet. This slide was 300 feet wide. I am unsure of how widespread this layering is, but it should be easy to find. Dig only a foot or two deep and evaluate bonding of snow around this ice crust.

Also, at upper elevations on NW, N, NE, and E aspects there remains a possibility of triggering a slide breaking at the ground on old snow from early November.

weather

Today will have cloudy skies for the morning that should give way to sunshine by afternoon. A few snowflakes could fall this morning but not accumulation is expected. Temperatures will rise into the upper 20's F. Winds should slowly shift direction and blow from the NW by late afternoon at 10-15 mph.

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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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.