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Date is date posted here in Internet Salmagundi, not date originally published.
Weather | Snow | Utah
The Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Map is a three-dimensional map that, along with the companion Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Guide, provides a wealth of backcountry information. Cottonwood Canyons Weather Dashboard provides all you need to know weather-wise for the Cottonwood Canyons.
Little Cottonwood Canyon is a unique environment. Weather is often intense during the Winter and avalanches are of course a major concern. This page provides a variety of information sources so that you can be well informed of current conditions in the canyon. Included are resources from Alta & Snowbird, National Weather Service, Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Dept. of Transportation & Unified Police Greater Salt Lake.
Articles published by The Salt Lake Tribune.
Video by Utah Dept. of Transportation & KSL-TV
Violent storms in the Salt Lake and Utah Counties area resulted in flooding and mud & rock slides in several canyons and nearby run-off zones. Here are a few articles from The Salt Lake Tribune chronicling the aftermath.
Article by WWD Webmaster
July 11, 2019
Graupel is supercooled water droplets coming into contact with falling snow, heavily rimed new snow. Hail is solid balls or lumps of ice. Sleet is smaller ice pellets, in between snow and freezing rain.
Article by WWD Webmaster.
May 22, 2019
Records? I think so. Granted I'm comparing Mid-Gad snow study plot to the Alta Guard station study plot, so it's not exact. But, if you look at season totals at Alta Guard you will see that there are only 2 seasons where we've had 700" or more at Alta Guard. In my book 711 inches at Mid-Gad is fairly rare. Record-worthy to be sure.
Avalanche Encyclopedia, Avalanche.org
“Glide occurs when the entire snowpack slowly slides as a unit on the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow and pose a hazard that is very difficult to forecast.”
Published by Alaska Mountain Safety Center, March 24, 2017
By Jill Fredston & Doug Fesler
"A new edition of a best-selling classic. Snow Sense is North America's leading primer on how to avoid getting caught in an avalanche. Written by the experts, Snow Sense focuses on the critical terrain, snowpack, weather, and human factors that allow avalanche accidents to happen. A must-have for anyone who works or plays in avalanche country."
Published by Globe Pequot Press / Falcon Guides, December, 2012
By Mike Clelland and Allen O'Bannon
"With more and more people heading into the winter backcountry on skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles, avalanche safety is of paramount importance. Allen & Mike's Really Cool Avalanche Safety Book distills the sometimes overly technical information of snow science into a user-friendly format with helpful illustrations and easy-to-understand text."
The Salt Lake Tribune, March 30, 2019
By Brian Maffly
"On powder days, Rafferty and nearly every other Alta and Snowbird skier not staying on the mountain, spent more time in cars than on the skis....'While the ski areas have adjusted to accommodate growth on their mountains,' Maughan said, 'the road and parking capacities are the same as they were 15 years ago.'”
“In Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, 3rd Edition, acclaimed snow and avalanche expert Bruce Tremper provides easy-to-understand avalanche safety tips and skills, including the latest snow research and techniques for evaluating snowpack, as well how to rescue companions in the event of an avalanche.“
“Avalanche Essentials is for everyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of avalanche awareness, focusing on systems and checklists, step-by-step procedures, decision-making aids, visual terrain and weather cues, rescue techniques, gear, and more.”
Bob Athey is the Wizard of the Wasatch. His website is “Snow and avalanche conditions in the Wasatch range including photos, diagrams, snow pit graphs and trip reports in winter. Images of wildflowers, goats and other wildlife, changing season leaves, and trip reports from hikes and runs in the summer and fall.”
Spend some time poking around his site. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts. Here too is a collection of articles and videos featuring the WoW.
Avalanche Control Systems from TAS and Wyssen.
“Idaho author Matthew Deren discovered a hidden niche from the ground up in West Central Idaho as he researched a book about nature's hidden relationships in the temperate forests between McCall and Riggins.”
"‘I noticed a convergence zone in West Central Idaho that no one had really discovered before,’ Deren says. ‘It's a point where the south meets the north, the dry meets the wet, and where civilization meets the wild. It's the largest temperate block of wilderness in North America.’"
Field Guide to Snow Crystals is the classic original book on the subject of snow crystals. It is a collectors item with copies on Amazon ranging from $45 to $290 for a new hardcover copy. While it may be outdated in terms of the level of understanding of snow crystals, it is nonetheless one of the early and most well respected guides on the subject.
“Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth is the ultimate meteorological guide for powder hounds, snow geeks, and weather enthusiasts.”
chart and a table that contains historical snowfall data by month as recorded at the Alta Guard station which is now part of the UDOT avalanche snow safety operation. This historical data was first compiled by Montgomery Atwater who was the first snow ranger in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Skiing in Utah: A History is a study of skiing in Utah from early days when it was essentially a form of transportation to the late 1970’s and the advent of ski resorts as embodied by Snowbird. The book covers various topics including ski jumping, avalanche prediction and control. It deals with specific ski areas including Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City and Snowbird. “In many ways the ski history of Park City and Snowbird illustrates the sport’s transition from avocation to industry.”
"Follow Piper the border collie and her canine classmates through a season of avalanche rescue training. As they learn the skills they need to become snow rescue dogs, you'll learn about the work these amazing canines do and about avalanche safety."
Avalanche.org connects the public to avalanche information and education in the United States. Avalanche.org is a partnership between the American Avalanche Association (A3) and the US Forest Service National Avalanche Center (NAC). The site consolidates data from professional forecast centers to provide real-time avalanche information.
This is just a sample of the work that goes into assessing snow stability. Utah Avalanche Center staff do this work daily through out the Winter along the Wasatch Mountains and in other regions of Utah. this observation is remarkable in that it’s a deep snow study pit with a distinct fracture occurring during testing. This will be unfamiliar for those who are not accustomed to skiing in hazardous backcountry environments.
The Wasatch Weather Weenies discuss the weather and climate of the Wasatch Front and Mountains, western United States, and beyond.
Professor Powder has also written Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, “the ultimate meteorological guide for powder hounds, snow geeks, and weather enthusiasts.”
Know Before You Go is a free avalanche awareness program. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In 1 hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches. The Know Before You Go program is non-profit and depends on grants and donations. KBYG is a program of the Utah Avalanche Center, Salt Lake City, Utah.
"A hard climbing philosopher, Josh is also a believer. "There's nothing more pure and simple," he states, "than launching into a big climb in the middle of winter. No other people, no mechanical sounds, no artificial colors; just rock and snow and breathing and the immensity of the mountains. A horizontal length of testy and mercurial ridgeline to be navigated before we can have some hot food and some rest. Doesn't get much better than that." It occurred to us that when you don't have any protection, both ends of the rope are sharp, both partners are equal."
Molly Absolon, writing for the Mountainside column of the Jackson Hole News & Guide, writes about being dangerous. She writes of her reaction to an essay that Drew Hardesty wrote titled “I AM Dangerous.” Drew Hardesty is a forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center in the winter and a Grand Teton National Park climbing ranger in the summer. Drew had recently sent her an essay he’d written about danger. “The essay went on to explore the notion of danger, and, in the end, Drew embraced the idea that we are dangerous if we spend our lives in the mountains engaging in potentially risky behavior.”
“‘Little did I know what was coming,’ writes Tim Banfield in this eye-opening and brutally honest account of he and a partner’s successful rescue of a friend that was buried 13 feet deep in an avalanche. Banfield recounts this tale for one reason: to share what he learned from a truly remarkable avalanche rescue in the hope that this information can help save lives.”
"I'm really beating up on the brain," Boilen says. "But, hopefully, in the spirit of empowering ourselves to make better decisions."