Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Evelyn Lees for Tuesday - January 16, 2018 - 6:14am
bottom line

The Avalanche Danger is MODERATE on steep, mid and upper elevation slopes facing northerly through easterly. Human triggered avalanches are possible, and large, deadly avalanches can be triggered in isolated places. Use a slope inclinometer and compass to identify and avoid the steep, north through easterly facing slopes, where it’s most likely to trigger an avalanche. Shady, low angle slopes have great turning and riding in loud powder.

If you're headed into the backcountry - or exiting though the gates at the ski area - you must have the proper gear, training, and skilled partners.

special announcement

Spend some time improving your rescue skills or learning about avalanches in these two, upcoming Salt Lake City area classes:

Come watch what some describe as "Top Gun on the Ski Slopes" - Aspen Extreme. Get our your best 1-piece and join the UAC at Brewvies for a fundraiser on 17 January.

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.

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.

current conditions

It’s another mild day in the mountains, with a few high thin clouds drifting by and a significant temperature inversion. While the canyon bottoms are in the teens, the 9 to 11,000’ temperatures are in the twenties and low thirties. An easterly flow is creating gusty winds at the canyon mouths, but calm conditions in the mountains, with speeds less than 10 mph, even at 11,000’. If you are searching for soft snow, head to wind sheltered, low angle shady slopes, where there is “loud powder” in the growing surface hoar. All the sunny slopes are crusted, but will soften with daytime heating.

recent activity

No new avalanches were reported yesterday, from the backcountry or the resorts, though we are still looking for information on a large slide triggered in Banana Days on Sunday. The heat map below shows where the avalanches in our database occurred in the SLC, Ogden and Provo area mountains between January 8th and 15th. While our data set is never complete, note that many avalanches occurred below 10,000’.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 12 hours

“Poor structure” and a “persistent weak layer” are the buzzwords of the Wasatch snowpack. Translated – “strong snow sitting on weak snow” and “facets”. Cody Hugh’s video from one of Saturday’s avalanche illustrates these both.

The chance of triggering a slide is slowly decreasing, but the consequences remain the same. A triggered slide would likely be 2 to 3 feet deep, 50 to 100 feet wide, and could take you for a deadly ride. Every observation from experienced backcountry travelers notes that avoidance of the steep, shady slopes at both upper and mid elevtations the only way to guarantee not triggering an avalanche.


A weak system moving through the high pressure will bring periods of high thin clouds today, with thickening clouds tonight. The sighting of a few snowflakes is possible overnight, though unlikely. Temperatures will warm into the upper 30s to low 40s today, cooling into the low twenties overnight. The mountain winds will eventually shift to the southwest, and increase into the 5 to 15 mph range, with the highest peaks reaching averages of 10 to 20 mph. Confidence is growing for stronger cold front arriving Friday, with snow lingering into Saturday.

general announcements


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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 occur.