Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Trent Meisenheimer for Sunday - November 27, 2016 - 5:46am
bottom line

Avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on northerly upper elevation slopes, where you'll likely find fresh drifts of wind blown snow. These wind drifts have the potential to step down and break wider than expected. The consequences of getting caught in any avalanche on our thin, early-season snowpack means taking a ride over rocks and deadfall. The danger is MODERATE at most mid elevation slopes and LOW at all low elevation slopes.




avalanche watch

UPDATED AT 4 P.M. ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27

THE FOREST SERVICE UTAH AVALANCHE CENTER IN SALT LAKE CITY HAS ISSUED A BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE WATCH.

* TIMING…IN EFFECT FROM 4:00 PM MST THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 AM MST MONDAY

* AFFECTED AREA…FOR THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTHERN UTAH INCLUDING THE WASATCH RANGE...UINTA MOUNTAINS.

* AVALANCHE DANGER…THE AVALANCHE DANGER IS EXPECTED TO RISE TO HIGH WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS

* IMPACTS…BY MONDAY MORNING EXPECTED HEAVY SNOWFALL AND STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE WIDESPREAD AREAS OF UNSTABLE SNOW. BOTH HUMAN TRIGGERED AND NATURAL AVALANCHES WILL BE LIKELY. STAY OFF OF AND OUT FROM UNDER SLOPES STEEPER THAN 30 DEGREES.

THIS WATCH DOES NOT APPLY TO OPERATING SKI AREAS WHERE AVALANCHE HAZARD REDUCTION MEASURES ARE PERFORMED.

special announcement

Check out the story HERE.

current conditions

Since yesterday we received 3-6" of new snow (0.25-0.42 inches of water) throughout the central Wasatch mountains. Moderate to strong winds blew out of southwest for much of the night, this morning they have switched to the west and are blowing 15-25 mph with gusts into the 40's at 10,000ft. Temperatures have cooled since yesterday and most 9,000ft elevations are in upper teens to low twenties.

The early season snowpack remains shallow with many buried rocks and stumps just lurking beneath the snow surface. Travel is still challenging and the best turns are found in low angle grassy meadows.

Check out the video I made yesterday describing the snow on the shady (north) aspect around upper Big Cottonwood canyon.

Pioneer Ridge 11/26/16 from Trent Meisenheimer on Vimeo.

recent activity

No new avalanches were reported yesterday. But there were several interesting observations from Cardiff Fork. Apparently, some natural slides did break to the ground on facets during the Wednesday night storm (Nov 23rd) in upper Cardiff Fork and collapsing was reported on a higher, northerly facing slope.

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

The overnight southwest winds and new snow likely created sensitive drifts of wind blown snow on the north half of the compass. To add insult to injury, these wind slabs have potential to step down into the weak sugary snow near the ground, creating a much more dangerous avalanche.

Watch for recent drifts of windblown snow at upper elevations, mid slope, in open bowls, along gully walls and sub ridges. New cornices may be sensitive. Shooting cracks indicate a unstable wind slabs, and should be avoided on any steep slope.

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

There is a big difference right now between the south (sunny) and north (shady) aspects at upper elevations - see pictures below. The earliest autumn snow never quite melted off on upper elevation, northerly facing slopes - instead it changed to loose, sugary facets. Now buried this faceted snow as the potential to create dangerous slab avalanches. These facets are suspect, especially each time they get a new load (wind or snow) – for today on slopes with new drifts of wind blown snow at upper elevations, 35 degrees in slope angle or steeper.... should be avoided.

North (shady) aspects you will find - weak faceted snow at the ground.

South (sunny) aspects there are no buried weak layers in the snowpack.

weather

Expect the snow to start tapering off by mid morning as the small storm exits the area. Isolated snow flurries will linger at times throughout the day. Winds will start to shift from the southwest to west and finally to the northwest by later today and into the evening as the next series of storms impact northern Utah. Mountain temperatures will be in the mid 20's F at upper elevations and the winds remain brisk with speeds of 15-25 mph with gusts into the 30's.

The next storm will arrive this afternoon with an additional six inches of snow possible. Although not a particularly strong storm, a colder airmass will bring lower snow densities. The third and strongest storm will impact the area Monday into Tuesday, with periods of intense snowfall possible mainly Monday mid-morning through early evening.

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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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.

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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.