Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Friday - April 27, 2018 - 5:03pm
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Regular avalanche forecasts with avalanche danger ratings have ended. We will issue intermittent updates for the Salt Lake mountains through the end of April everytime it snows. We will continue to post all observations so please keep sending those in.

special announcement

Ski areas are closing and each has a different uphill travel policy. Remember that areas open to uphill travel are no longer doing any avalanche mitigation work and must be treated as backcountry terrain.

Alta Ski Area is closed to uphill travel this weekend.

current conditions

The spring corn cycle is on.

Salt Lake City tied it's all time high of 85°F for the day (April 27th) and while the bluebird sings to the lemonade springs in the valley, the spring corn cycle is on in the mountains. Good, supportable corn can be found up to about 930 or 10am on easterly facing slopes, but be sure to continue to work your way around the compass before leaving unsightly ruts by overstaying your welcome on the quick-to-soften transitional snowpack. Settled snow depths are 30-40" along the PC ridgeline and 65-85" in BCC and LCC.

Glorious in the mountains this morning, but daytime highs reached into the mid-60s at the bases of Alta and Brighton well after we were gone.

Week in Review - week in review mostly had staff climbing in Red Rocks and Little Cottonwood, floating through Labyrinth Canyon, and skiing near Cooke City, Montana. Grading final exams and yard work rounded out the week.

Year in Review - We'll be working on our 17/18 Annual Report in the coming weeks, but a few things of note regarding this winter. According to our colleagues at UDOT Little Cottonwood where they've been keeping records since winter 44/45, the Alta Guard (UDOT LCC) currently sits at 42" of snow with 5.67" of water for April. April averages 66" with 6.65" water. (It seems unlikely that the weekend storms will put us anywhere close to that.)

For the season, the Alta Guard recorded 288" with 30.31" water. It's only the second time in 74 years of records that they did not break 300." This goes into the books as the second lowest snowfall on record (2014-15 was 274"), and third driest (1976-77 had 23.7" water and 2014-15 had 27"). If you plug April 2018 snow/water into our 74 year data set, our annual average drops to 486" snow with 45" water.

Still. Remember that days in the mountains are an absolute gift. Good winters are a bonus.

recent activity

We will continue to post all observations, so please keep sending those in.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 24 hours

Watch this video (above) about things to watch for in the spring.


The ridge of high pressure is shifting to the east ahead of an increasingly mild, breezy southwest flow. Free air temps along the ridgelines tonight will be in the mid-40s with hourly southwest winds in the 20-25mph range through Saturday night. Convective showers with some potential for thunderstorms Saturday/Saturday eve with cooler temps Sunday. Sunday night into Monday's initial wave may bring snowfall down to 6500' with totals of perhaps 2-5" along the higher elevations. Unsettled weather with occasional thunderstorms and/or snowfall possible through the week.

April 16th's pre-frontal dust event was one to remember and dust on snow has many implications within the avalanche and snow hydrology fields. A recent quick and dusty synopsis of an ongoing study by researchers here at the University of Utah can be found here. With a little time, one can find a number of good articles and current research by many our our friends at (or previously) the U. Some names you might recognize include Painter, Skiles, Landry (in Silverton), Steenburgh, Mallia, McNeally, Maurer, Hahnenberger, Nicoll, Lin, Hallar, Bowling and others.

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.