Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Evelyn Lees for Monday - December 26, 2016 - 6:28am
bottom line

There is a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today on steep upper elevation wind drifted slopes. The avalanche danger is MODERATE out of the wind effected terrain and on mid elevation slopes for triggering a new snow sluff, soft slab or smaller wind drift. There continues to be an isolated chance of triggering a deeper slide, breaking mid pack or to the ground.

There is amazing turning and riding in untracked powder on slopes that are less steep than about 35 degrees and not connected to or below steep terrain, so give the snow on steep slopes another day to stabilize.




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

UDOT's draft backcountry closure policy can be found here and comments are welcome through January 6th.

current conditions

The third major storm of December has once again filled in the old tracks with a blanket of incredible Utah powder. Storm totals:

  • Ogden area mountains: 15 to 30” snow, up to 2.5” of water
  • Salt Lake area mountains: 15 to 26” of snow, up to 2” of water
  • Park City area mountains: 10 to 27” of snow, up to 2” of water
  • Provo area mountains: 10 to 14” of snow

This morning, skies are partly cloudy and temperatures icy cold – between 5 below and 5 above zero. The westerly winds very light, averaging 10 mph with gusts to 15.

recent activity

The new snow was sensitive yesterday, with both shallow soft slabs and sluffs easily triggered in the backcountry. Additional information came from avalanche reduction operations - large avalanches (class 2s – large enough to bury and kill a person) were triggered with explosives on upper elevation, wind drifted slopes, including the south facing slopes above the Little Cottonwood highway. Even out of the wind-affected terrain and at mid elevations, new snow sluffs and soft slabs were easily triggered with ski cuts.

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 upper elevations, wind affected terrain has the greatest hazard today – there are several layers of winds drifts, both soft and hard, that can be triggered by a person. Over the past 2 days, winds have blown from southeast through west through northwest, so drifts will be more widespread than usual and found on both mid an upper elevations slopes. Cornices tend to break back further than expected, so stay well back from the edges.

Video of yesterday’s winds by Chad Brackelsberg

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

The new snow will be less sensitive today, but it will still be possible to trigger soft slabs and long running loose sluffs on steep slopes. Slope cuts on smaller features or test slopes will be useful. But triggering a soft slab in continuously steep terrain, above cliffs or where you get funneled into a gully could result in a long ride or burial.

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

There are a few less predictable layers in the snow pack – two layers of small facets in the upper snow pack, including on wind sheltered mid elevation slopes, facet crust sandwiches on southerly facing slopes and basal facets (limited to the upper elevation northwest through easterly facing slopes). A slide triggered in the new snow could step down to one of these layers in isolated places.

It’s just common sense to give all these layers at least another day to adjust to the new snow load.

weather

High pressure is slowly building into the area and clouds will gradually decrease today. It will stay cold though, only warming to 10 degrees at 10,000’. The southwesterly winds will remain light, averaging about 10 mph, with gusts occasionally in the 20s across the highest ridge lines. Cold and clear tonight, with light southwesterly winds. There’s a chance for a few inches of snow Tuesday night into Wednesday.

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.