Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Ogden Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Sunday - January 1, 2017 - 6:59am
bottom line

We have a mostly LOW avalanche danger. Old and newly developing shallow soft and hard wind pockets may still be found in isolated terrain. These wind drifts may not be large enough to bury you, but they may be enough to knock you off your feet. Terrain and consequence go hand in hand.

Best to you and yours for a safe and powder-filled 2017 -

special announcement

Ogden Avalanche Education
The Utah Avalanche Center is hosting a number of avalanche education opportunities in the Ogden area
from January 7th through January 14th. If you are new to the mountains or a seasoned backcountry traveler, there’s a class for you!

Saturday January 7th – 3pm FREE Know Before You Go Avalanche Awareness Presentation
Location: Powder Keg Bar at Powder Mountain

Thursday January 12th – 6pmIntroduction to Avalanches Class (registration is required)
Location: Amer Sports and Snowbasin (Field Day - Saturday January 14th)

Friday January 13th – 12:30pmFREE Beacon Clinic – POW! day at Powder Mountain
Location: Main parking lot at Powder Mountain

Friday January 13th – 5-8pmCompanion Rescue Fundamentals Class (registration is required)
Location: Snowbasin Ski Resort

Friday January 13th – 6pm FREE Know Before You Go Avalanche Awareness Presentation
Location: AD Triple S Motorsports, West Haven, UT

current conditions

Skies are clear. Temperatures are in the upper teens along the ridgelines. The winds are blowing from the west and southwest at 30-40mph on Mt Ogden and James Peak, and notably gusting into the 20s and 30s at the mid-elevations. Father Time has had his way with the Christmas storm, but it looks like we'll get at least a few inches of snow out of tonight's storm.

Looking Back by Greg Gagne

Snow totals from the Christmas storm in the Salt Lake and Park City mountains ranged from 10-26" with about 2" water weight. The Provo mountains received about half that amount. The big winner was the northern Wasatch with the Ogden area mountains receiving 15-30" and 2.5" of water.

The Christmas storm wound down by late Sunday night, with Monday featuring cold, clear weather and 5-star ski conditions. Winds began to blow on Tuesday and Wednesday, and generally out of the west. There was some limited avalanche activity reported from the backcountry consisting of fresh wind slabs, but most observers on Thursday reported the recent wind slabs to be stubborn and unreactive to stability tests. Thursday featured warm and clear weather with light winds.

Looking Forward

Stagnant weather, valley inversions, and clear skies all foster and promote not only the recrystallization (Brett Kobernik's report here) of the snow at and near the top of the snowpack, but also the development of surface hoar. We call surface hoar the 'winter-time equivalent of dew'. How does it form? Ever look down at the cold glass bottle of champagne at last night's New Year's Eve party and notice that the bottle begins to sweat? The cold bottle has effectively lowered the temperature of the air just adjacent to it to the point where it has reached saturation...which in turn kicks water vapor out of the air parcel where it condenses as "dew" onto your bottle. (No doubt you were the life of the party as you held court on how this works last night.)

And so it goes with surface hoar - though in solid, crystalline form. It's beautiful in its myriad shapes and can even be noisy to ski or ride through. But here's the catch: when buried and loaded by wind and additional snow, avalanches release on top of it in surprising and unexpected ways. You might collapse the layer here and trigger the avalanche over there (remote triggering)....the avalanche over there might in turn trigger another one adjacent to it (sympathetic triggering)....and any of these may release very low slope angles. Also check Mark Staples Instagram post from yesterday. (pics: White, Staples; video: Kobernik)

recent activity

None. No signs of instability noted.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 24 hours

It's mostly Low danger, what could possibly go wrong?

Risk is inherent in mountain travel.

Low danger doesn't mean No danger.

Shallow soft and hard wind pockets and ever-mercurial cornices still litter the high alpine terrain and while most are fairly welded in, consider the consequences of getting knocked off your feet or ride in high consequence terrain. Sound too general? My good friend Charlie Borgh was killed 10 years ago by a small avalanche that swept him and his partner 3000' down Mt Deltaform in the Canadian Rockies. His partner survived. In Februrary 2007, two snowshoers triggered a 5" hard wind slab on the east ridge of the Pfeifferhorn, tumbling them to the south over cliff-bands into upper Dry Creek. They each survived, but not without significant injuries.

Remember that one tends to transition from "backcountry skiing and riding" to something entirely different in the alpine with its attendant risk and glory. The key is to make deliberate, intentional decisions with calculated risk. What could possibly go wrong?


Increasing clouds and southwesterly winds portend the storm. Temps will rise to the low 20s at 10,000' and near 30 at 8000'. Winds will increase to 20-30mph today, and howling in the 40-50s tonight. Light snow may begin by the afternoon with 3-7" through tomorrow as accompanying temps drop to the single digits and low teens. Models aren't well aligned at this point for details into next week.

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.

EMAIL ADVISORY If you would like to get the daily advisory by email you will need to subscribe here.

DAWN PATROL Hotline updated daily by 5-530am - 888-999-4019 option 8.

TWITTER Updates for your mobile phone - DETAILS

UDOT canyon closures: LINK TO UDOT, or on Twitter, follow @UDOTavy, @CanyonAlerts or @AltaCentral

Utah Avalanche Center mobile app - Get your advisory on your iPhone along with great navigation and rescue tools.

Powderbird Helicopter Skiing - Blog/itinerary for the day

Lost or Found something in the backcountry? - http://nolofo.com/

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!

Benefit the Utah Avalanche Center when you buy or sell on ebay - set the Utah Avalanche Center as a favorite non-profit in your ebay account here and click on ebay gives when you buy or sell. You can choose to have your seller fees donated to the UAC, which doesn't cost you a penny.

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.