Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Thursday - November 16, 2017 - 12:14pm
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There is just enough snow on upper elevation, northerly facing slopes to squeak out a few turns. And if there's enough snow to ride, there's enough snow to avalanche. Even today, small, pockety slides in very isolated places are possible in upper elevation wind drifted terrain. If and when we get enough of a storm, areas that held old snow from the fall (upper elevation northwest to northeast facing slopes) will be suspect for avalanching. If heading out tomorrow through the weekend, the smart money chooses the other aspects that were dry until now...or sticks to low angle grassy slopes with nothing steeper above.

Remember that each year we have early season close calls, accidents, and sometimes avalanche fatalities. Montana has tragically suffered the first avalanche fatality of the season on October 7th. Remember that traumatic injury is also more prevalent in the early season owing to the thin snow coverage - tread lightly. Lastly, one must treat the unopened ski area terrain as the backcountry as the avalanche teams have yet to do control work. Please check in with them if you have any questions or about their uphill travel policies.

We will have morning updates starting tomorrow and through the weekend with additional forecasts as conditions warrant.

special announcement

Snowbird is closed to uphill travel as they get their resort ready for the season. Each resort has different uphill travel policies - please abide by signage and closures and check in with the local ski patrol.

Our Education and Calendar pages are already chock-full of classes and events - find something that suits you, like our Companion Rescue workshops, a free Know Before You Go awareness talk, or sign up for our of our Backcountry 101 classes.

Longtime observer Tom Diegel has a great blog series called The Little Things (that might keep you alive). He has four installments. You can find these and many other great essays and posts in the UAC blog series here.

current conditions

All the old-timers in eastern Montana and western North Dakota tell me that whenever the wind stops, all the cows fall over. And so it is with the southerly 30-40mph winds gusting to 60 as they're certainly having their way with our beleaguered and vertically challenged snowpack. Our marketing departments swear that 12-18" exists in the high northerlies, though this is likely confined to wind-drifted terrain. Less than half of that sits on the Park City ridgeline.

The term "spatially variable" politely describes the current snow surface conditions. You'll find old and new wind crusts, two-week-old wafer-thin rain/rime crusts, loose sugary faceted snow in protected north facing terrain, damp snow down to 8500' and now - owing to the strong westerlies - probably dust on snow to cap it all off. All in all, snow exists exclusively in the shady aspects; otherwise you're looking at the bare ground. See Mark Staples's video below or on youtube here.


The storm is on the doorstep. Mountain temperatures will remain warm until colder air pushes through tomorrow morning. South to southwest winds will continue to howl at 35-45mph before veering more to the west and northwest tomorrow into tomorrow night. Initial precipitation should begin anytime now with a rain/snow line likely reaching 9500'...before crashing to the valleys Friday afternoon. We're seeing quite a bit of spread in the model precipitation amount forecasts, but I'll conservatively estimate 10-15" (and a bit more in favored areas) by the time the storm rolls off to the east on Saturday. Winds look to remain breezy (20-30mph) from the west/northwest Friday night before losing steam early Saturday.

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.

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 occur.