Salt Lake Avalanche Advisory

Forecaster: Drew Hardesty


Want to sharpen your avalanche skills? Join Drew Hardesty & our team of instructors for an evening discussion of advanced avalanche issues on Januray 20 followed by an on-snow workshop January 22. Details

Also, we still have DISCOUNTED LIFT TICKETS available for Sundance, Brianhead and Wolf Mountain which are generously donated to the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center to help us with our cost of operation. They are distributed by our kind partners at


Danger by aspect and elevation on slopes approaching 35° or steeper.
(click HERE for tomorrow's danger rating)

Danger Rose Tutorial

Pockets of MODERATE (Level 2) danger exist in the mid to upper elevation north to east facing terrain. Localized soft slabs 6-10” and 75’ wide – even well off the ridgelines - can be triggered with provocation. Loose wet point releases may again be problematic, particularly at the mid and low shady slopes. Rollerballs, pinwheels, and dampening snow should offer clues to the unwary.


We have mostly cloudy skies, temps in the mid to upper 20s and west to northwest winds generally less than 15mph. After yesterday’s warm temperatures and greenhousing, the narrow window of good snow shut even tighter. Stick to the northerly aspects between 8500’ and 10,000’.


Two main issues with the snow yesterday –

· The first having to do with the warm temps, high humidity, and greenhousing. Just after noon, a party of two booting up the Y Couloir in mid-Little Cottonwood canyon was pulled down the steep chute by a natural wet sluff cascading down from above. Despite the violent ride, they reported no injuries or lost gear. Cold snow becoming wet and damp for the first time can have a tendency to flush, particularly in the steeper, rocky confined terrain. This sluffing was also reported in the north fork of Provo canyon and elsewhere.

· The other issue revolves around the buried January 8th surface hoar and January 10th and 11th thin layer of faceted snow. A skier descending off the Clayton Peak ridgeline in the Brighton periphery was caught and carried by a shallow soft slab that broke above him. My own ski party triggered a few shallow soft slabs just off of (and on top of) the Soldier-Wilson ridgeline 4-10” deep and perhaps 50’ wide. Collapsing of the snowpack either preceded or coincided with the avalanche release. These were on north facing slopes at 9100’ Surface Hoar has a nasty habit of pulling out on lower angle slopes with the real potential of being triggered remotely; that is, at a distance. Down in mid-Alexander Basin of Mill Creek, we also initiated some other shallow soft slabs failing on this last week’s faceted snow. (For these full reports and a couple other slides in the backcountry as well as for Kobernik’s analysis and photos of these persistent weak layers, check out the Current Conditions page in the upper left hand corner.)


      Over the next 24 hours.

As they say, the first one’s free. We’ve been nickled and dimed with the snow and wind since the January 8th surface hoar layer was buried. This surface hoar layer (SH) (see more from our Avalanche Encyclopedia) is unusual because it was not universally destroyed by wind and/or sun/temps and has been observed from the ridgetops to the valley bottoms. This is more the case along the Park City ridgeline, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, and Lamb’s area and perhaps the Provo mountains, and apparently less so high in the Ogden mountains and in the upper elevations south of Little Cottonwood canyon. Still, the SH is relatively easy to find with a minute’s worth of poking into the snow.

So we have plenty of weak snow, but not much slab or load above it. When you’re out and about today though, a cornice drop or simple cut along the roll of the breakover may pull out some shallow pockets in areas that received a bit more snow and wind Thursday night. They’ve long been affectionately called ‘skier education pockets’ as they should pose little harm unless you’re in or above high consequence terrain.


      Over the next 10 hours.

A secondary concern for today is if you’re getting into steep terrain in the lower elevations. With mild temperatures the newest snow will become damp and natural loose wet snow avalanches may occur from point releases. These won’t pose much threat unless you’re in a runout zone where the debris could come down from above you and pile up deep enough to cause harm. It doesn’t take much snow to produce a pretty good size debris pile after it travels a distance down steep gullies.


Big picture has the ridge off the California coast with the intermountain west under a moist northwesterly flow. Temperatures warm to near 30 at 10,000’ and the mid 30s at 8000’. Winds will be northwesterly and generally less than 20mph. Mostly cloudy skies…With a stronger disturbance expected Monday, the winds should pick up significantly over the next couple of days. We’ll see some snow later tomorrow with accumulations between Sunday and Monday offering perhaps 8-12” in favored terrain.


If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry - especially if you are adjacent to a ski area – please call the following teams to alert them to the slide and whether anyone is missing or not. Rescue teams can be exposed to significant hazard when responding to avalanches, and do not want to do so when unneeded. Thanks.

Salt Lake – Alta Central (801-742-2033)

Ogden – Snowbasin Patrol Dispatch (801-620-1017)

Provo – Sundance Patrol Dispatch (801-223-4150)

Discount Lift tickets: Ski Utah,, Alta, Deer Valley, Park City, The Canyons, Wolf Mountain, Snowbasin, Beaver Mountain, Brighton, Sundance, and Solitude have donated a limited number of tickets for sale.

Wasatch Powderbird Guides flight plan.

Dawn Patrol Forecast Hotline, updated by 05:30: 888-999-4019 option 8.

Daily observations are frequently posted by 10 pm each evening.

Subscribe to the daily avalanche advisory e-mail click HERE.

UDOT canyon closures UDOT at (801) 975-4838

You have the opportunity to participate in the creation of our own community avalanche advisory by submitting avalanche and snow observations. You can also call us at 801-524-5304 or 800-662-4140, or email by clicking HERE

Donate to your favorite non-profit – The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center. The UAC depends on contributions from users like you to support our work.

The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

We will update this forecast tomorrow morning. Thanks for calling.

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 occur.

This advisory provided by the USDA Forest Service, in partnership with:

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation, Utah Division of Emergency Management, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake Unified Fire Authority and the friends of the La Sal Avalanche Center. See our Sponsors Page for a complete list.