Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Wednesday - April 11, 2018 - 5:51am
bottom line

The danger is mostly LOW this morning. With a poor refreeze and an overnight blanket of clouds, however, the danger of shallow damp sluffs will rise to MODERATE with today's direct sun and rapidly warming tempratures. Remember that terrain choices either amplify or minimize the risk of an otherwise minor avalanche.

*The danger will be on the rise over the next few days with an approaching storm with periods of heavy snowfall, post-frontal winds, and then sunny skies over the weekend.

special announcement
The last regular early morning forecast will be Sunday, April 17th. We will issue updates for the Salt Lake zone with every snowfall through the rest of April.

The Wilderness Medicine Program at the University of Utah is surveying the knowledge of both regular and occasional backcountry users. Please provide your input through this survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AvalancheSafetySkillsSurvey

current conditions

In the wake of a system passing by to the north, skies are mostly cloudy. Overnight southwesterly winds blew 25-30mph with gusts into the 50s and 60s. Cloud cover will start to thin out soon as the southwesterly winds lose their steam. If only for a little while. Overnight lows are in the upper 30s to low 40s. Skiing and riding conditions are surprisingly decent on a few inches of damp snow over Saturday's rain crust. They're best on low angle terrain and a bit scratchy on the steeper slopes. An axe, whippet ski pole, and ski crampons may still be useful for some.

recent activity

The western historian and novelist Wallace Stegner’s arguably finest work, Angle of Repose, tells of the remarkable striving and ultimate settling of one's place in life. Settle as to find a balance. Not too steep, not too gentle. Snow, too, seeks a balance between gravity and friction...but I was simply stunned at how far some of these human triggered slides ran on Sunday. In retrospect, should I have been so surprised to see ball bearings run so far on an ice rink? The long retired UAC forecaster Brad Meiklejohn recently expressed to me that Snow is just water; it wants to run downhill. The remarkable thing is not that it sometimes causes avalanches, but that it stays on the mountain at all. (While you're waiting for tomorrow's storm, you may as well while away the time reading up on Brad and other retired forecasters here.)

No significant activity noted from yesterday.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 10 hours

Remember that Risk is inherent in mountain travel.

Wet Loose sluffs. With direct sun and warming temperatures, the now settled couple inches of snow from Sunday's storm will soften and move with provocation on all aspects at the mid and upper elevations. We call these 'push-a-lanches' for obvious reasons as one can scrape and push these damp pieces of snow in steeper terrain.

Cornices will again soften and calve (often with no warning) today. Continue to give them a wide berth if traveling the ridgelines and avoid lingering if below.

Shallow pockets of wind slab may be found in the highest alpine terrain.


Skies are mostly-trending partly cloudy with now west to northwesterly winds blowing 10-15mph. Mountain temps will rise to the low 50s at the mid-elevations and near 40 at 10,000'. We'll have just a window of fair weather before we see increasing southwest winds and high level clouds racing ahead of tomorrow's cold Pacific storm. Frontal passage looks to be during the morning commute and orographically favored areas by a northwest flow may see 12-16" by Friday. Moderate to strong post-frontal north to northwest winds are expected at this time. High pressure builds for the weekend with another storm on tap for Monday.

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.