Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Mark Staples for Thursday - December 22, 2016 - 7:08am
bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today at upper elevations where triggering a wind slab or a deeper persistent slab avalanche remains possible. The danger is LOW at mid and low elevations.




special announcement

Once again this winter, our partners at the Wasatch Mountain Club are matching WMC member donations to the Utah Avalanche Center. If you are a WMC member and value avalanche forecasting and education, please send a check made out to the Utah Avalanche Center to the WMC at 1390 South 1100 East #103, Salt Lake City, UT 84105


Practice avalanche rescue at the Big Cottonwood Canyon beacon park in the west end of the first entry to Solitude Mountain Resort.

current conditions

This morning temperatures at most places are in the high teens to low 20's F with winds blowing 5-10 mph gusting 15 mph from the S. There is a mixed bag of conditions today. Monday's winds and Tuesday's warm temperatures have made soft powder harder to find.

recent activity

No avalanches were reported yesterday. The most interesting avalanche occurred Monday in the Birthday Chutes in the White Pine drainage of the Little Cottonwood Canyon. A few more details about this avalanche will be posted today. Consider visiting this avalanche. There's no better way to learn about avalanches than looking at avalanches.

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

Wind slabs are almost something to watch for. Monday's strong SW winds created many fresh wind slabs that should be difficult to trigger today.

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

Buried faceted layers exist 1-3 feet deep in the snowpack. These layers are gaining strength and adjusting to last Friday's massive load of new snow. Greg was skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon yesterday and found three faceted layers in the upper 3 feet of the snowpack. None propagated cracks in his stability tests (a good sign). However, on Tuesday another observer was on Peak 10420 in Big Cottonwood Canyon and found a faceted layer buried about a foot and a half deep that did propagate cracks (a bad sign) in his tests. While these layers have gained strength on most slopes, they remain variable. It's worth putting your shovel in the snow and testing these layers with an extended column test (see how to do it in this video). If one of these layers fractures across the whole column, treat that as a red flag just like collapsing or cracking.

Facets near the ground created Monday's avalanche in the Birthday Chutes. This is an isolated problem but one we can't ignore because it caused such a massive avalanche. This type of problem takes time to heal and go away. It exists on high elevation northerly slopes that had snow in mid November. The picture below comes from video footage taken by Tony Pavlantos and Steve Lloyd on November 14. The red line shows the approximate crown line. It's no coincidence that it matches the line between snow and bare ground. The snow in the photo became faceted and formed the weak layer responsible for this avalanche.

weather

Today will have some clouds and sun with temperatures rising near 30 degrees F. Southerly winds will blow 5-10 mph. A storm in southern and central Utah will send some clouds north today but no precipitation is expected until another storm arrives Friday evening with strong winds followed by cold temperatures.

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.

EMAIL ADVISORY If you would like to get the daily advisory by email you will need to subscribe here.‚Äč

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.

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.