Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Mark Staples for Sunday - January 17, 2016 - 7:24am
bottom line

Today with more snow and strong winds, the avalanche danger is HIGH on wind loaded, upper elevation slopes. A CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger exists on mid elevation slopes where a combination of wind loading or the presence of buried facets will create an avalanche. Below 8000 feet on low elevation slopes, there is less snow and less wind, but avalanches are still possible and the danger on these slopes is MODERATE.




special announcement
  1. Ice Climber's Avalanche Awareness Workshop in Salt Lake City and Ogden from 5:30-7:00.
  2. Announcing a Dutch Auction for a pair of 180 cm Vapor Nano Skis donated to the Utah Avalanche Center by La Sportiva. Here's an opportunity to learn a piece of economic trivia, practice your decision-making skills, benefit the Utah Avalanche Center, and smoke your friends up the skin track. These skis measure 130/103/120mm and weigh 1200 g (!). List price is $1,200. Here's the deal: We are offering these skis for sale to the first person that contacts us with a commitment to purchase (including their credit card information). THE PRICE TODAY IS $1000.00 AND WILL DROP $50 TOMORROW. The price will continue to drop by $50 per day until someone buys the skis at that day's price or we decide the price has gone too low and end the auction with no sale. To ask questions or accept the current price, email us at [email protected] We'll toss in a free UAC t-shirt or trucker hat and handful of Clif Bar product. For local pick up or we'll ship (you pay our shipping cost). No trades for size - we only have one pair.
current conditions

Since yesterday, 6-10 inches of snow fell containing 0.6-0.9 inches of water. Unfortunately, very strong winds began yesterday around 4 p.m. Last night and this morning, they were blowing westerly 15-20 mph and gusting 30-40 mph. The highest peaks had winds blowing 60-80 mph. This morning temperatures above 9000 feet were in the high teens and low 20s F. Total snowfall since Friday in the upper Cottonwoods is about 2 feet with about 2 inches of water. Wind loaded slopes can easily have double this load.

recent activity

Yesterday afternoon as winds were increasing, ski patrols easily triggered soft slabs and fresh wind slabs. Skiers triggered an avalanche on a north facing slope at 8500 feet that was 20 inches deep and 100 feet wide north of I-80 on Lookout Peak. This slide broke at the ground and illustrates how weak the snowpack is in places where it is thin. In Big Cottonwood Canyon in Silver Fork, a group of skiers triggered an avalanche above the Meadow Chutes on a slope called the Football Field. This slope also had a thin and weak snowpack because it avalanched around Christmas. It is east facing at 9500 feet.

Photo of slide on Lookout Peak (C. Eaves)

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

New snow and wind is an easy recipe that always creates avalanches. With up to 2 feet of new snow in the Alta periphery, winds have plenty of ammunition to form fresh wind slabs and drifts. People have reported wind slabs about 1foot thick, but this morning they could be double that thickness. Winds have generally been westerly. For the most part, if you stay at lower elevations on slopes without wind drifted snow, you can avoid most (but not all – see next problem below) avalanches today.

Photo of ski triggered wind slab about 12 inches deep on a east aspect on Ben Lomand Peak

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

Knowing what’s under your feet or your track is critical if going into avalanche terrain today. Many slopes have buried facets stressed by the weight of recent snowfall. There are two different scenarios to watch for and avoid today. If it sounds confusing….that’s because it is. Consider avoiding avalanche terrain.

  1. The weakest facets that should produce persistent slab avalanches today are on slopes that avalanched around Christmas or have a thin snowpack for any other reason (generally less than 3 feet deep). The snowpack on these slopes became weaker and more faceted during cold weather in early January. The two recent slides in Silver Fork and on Lookout Peak are good examples of a thin snowpack producing avalanches and are not outlier events. Slopes that avalanched around Christmas generally face NW->N->E.
  2. Slopes with a deeper snowpack and shaded from the sun formed a layer of near-surface facets during clear cold weather early last week. This layer did not appear to be reactive yesterday but it may have reached its breaking point today. Don’t be lazy, pull out your shovel, dig down, look for this layer, and do an Extended Column Test which should only take about 5 minutes. Yesterday an observer did this test, got a poor result on deeper facets (ECTP10) and changed his travel plans.

Photos from Thursday and Saturday showing the building slab (and increasing load) on buried facets that formed on the snow surface last week during clear, cold weather (G. Gagne).

Days Fork 1 - 16 - 2016 from Trent Meisenheimer on Vimeo.

weather

Winds will not continue blowing as strongly today as they did overnight. They should blow about 15-25 mph from the west at ridge tops. Cloudy skies should open and allow some sunshine today. Temperatures above 9000 feet should rise into the upper 20s F.

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.

To get help in an emergency (to launch 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.

Salt Lake and Park City – Alta Central (801-742-2033), Canyons Resort/PCMR Dispatch (435)615-1911

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, 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 your responsibility to know the resort policy on uphill travel.  You can see the uphill travel policy for each resort here. IMPORTANT: Before skinning or hiking 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.