Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Tuesday - March 29, 2016 - 6:56am
bottom line

The danger was HIGH overnight and I expect it to be CONSIDERABLE throughout the day. Human triggered avalanches are probable on many slopes at the mid and upper elevations and may be most problematic and touchy on the steep west to north to east facing slopes. Cornices and avalanches may run on approach. Beware of unusual loading patterns from the southeast winds.

I recommend a simple approach for today while things settle out - stick to sheltered slopes of 30° and less with nothing steeper above. A beginner's mind is required.




special announcement

Check out the Adventure and Gear Expo on April 8 & 9 at the Southtowne Expo Center. Use the code GOUAC to get a $2 discount on entrance tickets and the Adventure and Gear Expo will donate $2 to the UAC. http://www.adventuregearfest.com/

Spring powder special! We have reduced the price of donated Snowbasin lift tickets to $50 and Sundance tickets to $35, about half of window price. Take advantage of fresh powder on a fat snowpack and benefit the Utah Avalanche Center at the same time. We also haveone remaining Snowbird ticket for $84. Every penny spent on these donated tickets benefits the Utah Avalanche Center.

A few links back to some recent blog posts by popular request -

current conditions

And it's still snowing. Quite the storm. Might be a few people calling in sick today. Hope you feel better soon.

Snow totals so far (snow/snow water equivalent for overnight and storm) - I'd imagine another 2-4" today.

  • LCC - 10"/.8 16"/1.33
  • Upper BCC - 10".8" 21"/1.7"
  • [email protected]' - 8"/.6" 11"/1.2"
  • PC ridge - 8"/.6 15"/1"

With the position of the large scale closed Low pressure system, snow and wind came in on a generally south to southeast flow, favoring upper BCC and the Park City ridgeline. Winds burst in the overnight hours blowing 20-30mph with gusts into the 40s, but have lost a touch of steam, now blowing in the teens with gusts to 20. Temperatures are in the mid-teens.

recent activity

Yesterday: Shallow storm slabs, wind drifts, and sluffs were described as "touchy" with ski cuts during periods of higher snowfall intensity and a bump in winds in the afternoon. Heightened sensitivity noted on the northerly terrain with the snow presumably active on the weak pre-storm snow surfaces and some storm slabs provoking others to run as well. Undulating temperatures and crystal type may also have played a role yesterday. Localized naturalling occurred in the steeper terrain in the afternoon as well, with a decent wet debris pile noted by Jake Hutchinson in the bottof of the Y-couloir in lower LCC. Video from Bruce Englehard below.

storm slab vid from bruce engelhard on Vimeo.

Overnight and early this morning: periods of 1-2"/hour and elevated east to southeasterly winds likely led to another active, if deeper natural cycle though this hasn't been confirmed.

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

Drifts may be buried under a few inches of harmless looking powder snow, but will be sensitive, potentially remotely triggered and may even step down into some facet/crust layering a few inches down lying dormant before the storm. Many drifts will be loaded in unusual terrain, owing to the south to east winds. Whereas many of the triggered avalanches yesterday were in the 6-10" deep range, I'd imagine they'd be more than twice that today and may break about above you.

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

Storm slabs will also remain sensitive to provocation and more pronounced in the mid and upper elevations - particularly along the PC ridgeline and the upper reaches of the Cottonwoods - terrain that received (and continues to receive the most loading). Snowfall rates continued to be in the 1-2"/hour range overnight and will need more time to stabilize. Assume snow in terrain over 30° and moving toward 35-40° will move with human interaction. Don't overestimate your ability to ski cut steep terrain as older weak surface snow and thinly buried facet/crust combos may contribute to a more unpredictable avalanche character.

Avalanche Problem 3
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Fast moving sluffs can again be expected today on the steeper slopes. Note that debris piles from ski cuts yesterday of 2-3' deep may easily be twice that now.

weather

We'll see continued snowfall throughout the morning with off and on showers throughout the day. Winds should be southeasterly at 15-20mph along the ridgelines. Temps with be in the upper teens up high, the mid to upper 20s down low. A weak "dirty" ridge builds in for the later part of the week with gradual warming into the weekend.

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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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

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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.