Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Evelyn Lees for Saturday - November 15, 2014 - 7:08am
bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep slopes above about 9,500’ facing northwest, north and northeast. This is where fresh drifts of wind-blown snow are sitting of a weak base of sugary old snow. People will be able to trigger avalanches, which are large enough to take you for a ride. The snow pack is so shallow; any ride will have you hitting rocks and stumps. In addition, wind drifts on any steep slope should be avoided, including at the mid elevation where strong winds have also drifted the snow. And remember, none of the mountain resorts are open for the season and you must treat the snow as a backcountry snowpack.

special announcement

Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude resorts are closed to uphill traffic this weekend and until their planned opening date next Friday. To those skinning uphill at other resorts: it is your responsibility to know the resort policy on uphill travel. Some allow uphill travel - some don't. Contact the Ski Patrol at each resort for details.

Powder Magazine is publishing an online video series on avalanche accidents, called The Human Factor. It features a number of avalanche experts, including Utah Avalanche Center Director, Bruce Tremper. They will publish a new chapter each Tuesday for the next few weeks. Here is the link: http://www.powder.com/human-factor/

current conditions

First, a reality check. Total snow depths on the ground in Ogden, Park City and Salt Lake area mountains are only in the 4 to 14” range. A few upper elevation, shady slopes in the Cottonwoods, which retained old snow from earlier storms, have up to 18” of total snow. The Provo mountains have just a few inches of snow at the low to mid elevations. So honestly, winter recreation opportunities are still really limited.

The cold front sweeping across northern Utah this morning has contributed about 3 to 7” of new snow overnight. Temperatures are in the teens and twenties, and still falling. The winds have shifted to the west northwest behind the front, and are moderate to strong range, with most stations averaging 15 to 20 mph, with gusts to 40. The high peaks have been gusting in the 50s and 60s.

recent activity

No avalanches were reported yesterday.

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

The slopes of most concern today are those with wind drifts sitting above a base layer of weak sugary facets. This layering is limited to the Salt Lake area mountains, on shady slopes above about 9,500' facing NW, N and NE. Here, the early season snow that lingered is now sugary, weak and faceted. Where the weak snow has a slab on top, most likely in the form of a denser wind drift, it will be possible for a person to trigger the slide. All other wind drift should also be avoided on steep slopes throughout the range.

Here is a photo (Mark White) of the current snowpack set-up taken yesterday - weak facets with a soft slab sitting above. Check out the complete observation HERE.


The cold front is sliding south through northern Utah, and mountain snowfall will be winding down by mid-morning. A few more inches should accumulate in the Salt Lake and Provo area mountains before skies start to clear. The northwesterly winds will be slower to taper – remaining in the 15 to 25 mph range, with gusts in the 30s, into the afternoon. Across the high peaks, gusts will be in the 40s and 50s. High temperatures today will be in the single digits to mid-teens. Temperatures will drop below zero tonight, and Sunday will be clear and cold. A warming trend Monday through Wednesday will hopefully be followed by a weak trough near the end of the week.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please participate in the creation of our own community avalanche advisory 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.

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 and Park City – Alta Central (801-742-2033), Canyons Resort Dispatch (435-615-3322)

Snowbasin Resort Dispatch (801-620-1017), Powder Mountain Dispatch (801-745-3772 x 123).

Sundance Dispatch (801-223-4150)

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

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

Wasatch Powderbird Guides Blog/Itinerary for the Day.  

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

Ski Utah mobile snow updates

Discount lift tickets will soon be available at Backcountry.com - Thanks to Ski Utah and the Utah Resorts.  All proceeds go towards paying for Utah Avalanche Center avalanche and mountain weather advisories.

To those skinning uphill at resorts:  it is your responsibility to know the resort policy on uphill travel.  Some allow uphill travel and have guidelines, some don't. Contact the Ski Patrol at each resort for details. IMPORTANT: Before skinning at a resort under new snow conditions, check in with Ski Patrol.  Resorts can restrict or cut off access if incompatible with control and grooming operations.

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.