Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Mark Staples for Thursday - December 1, 2016 - 6:42am
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With a lingering deep, persistent slab avalanche problem in specific locations and the possibility of smaller avalanches breaking in the storm snow, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on all slopes at the mid and upper elevations. Avalanche conditions are generally safe at lower elevations where the danger is LOW.




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current conditions

Temperatures are in the low to mid teens F this morning with westerly winds blowing 5-10 mph and a few gusts of 15-20 mph. Very light snow is falling this morning mainly near Ogden. Snow from early this week has settled and become more supportable making traveling easier. Riding conditions remain great due to limited sun, limited wind, and cold temperatures.

recent activity

Yesterday a skier in East Bowl of Silver Fork triggered an avalanche 2 feet deep and 35 feet wide. It ran about 100 feet and carried the skier only about 20 feet. What’s notable about this slide is that the snow released on a rock slab. The other major activity occurred on Tuesday when explosive work in Little Cottonwood caused several avalanches 2-4 feet deep on high elevation, northerly facing slopes. These slides broke on facets at the ground.

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

With generally light winds and minimal snow transport, the only slab formation has been from settling of the new snow which has been bonding with itself at the same time. Triggering a slide within the storm snow remains possible if you find a place where the slab is a bit more cohesive than the underlying snow. The last avalanches breaking within the storm snow occurred Monday during heavy snowfall.

Avalanche crown in No Name Bowl from Monday (photo - M. White)

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

I’m unsure how to rate the danger for the deep slab avalanche problem. This problem is persistent and remains unstable for long periods. However, I’ve dropped the danger from yesterday because this problem is not widespread and only exists in specific places. These places are mostly high elevation slopes with a northerly aspect that were either:

  1. A slope that had a bit more snow than other slopes earlier this month. Upper Little Cottonwood Canyon had the most early season snow on high elevation northerly aspects. See a video of early season snow cover HERE.
  2. A slope with a very smooth ground surface where a thin layer of facets is uninterrupted. This may have been the case in yesterday’s skier triggered slide in East Bowl.

The best solution is to enjoy the powder on other aspects and avoid this problem. Evelyn and I found great conditions and good stability on Tuesday on a south aspect at 9900 feet and unstable conditions on a north aspect at a similar elevation in Grizzly Gulch. See video below.

Twin Lakes Pass from Trent Meisenheimer on Vimeo.

weather

A weak storm descending from the north today will bring cold temperatures and light snowfall. Skies will be cloudy and high temperatures shouldn’t climb out of the teens F. Winds will blow from the WNW at about 10 mph. 1-4 inches of new snow will fall today and tonight.

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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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.