Wintery mix hits the Wasatch Back, avalanche danger to increase
The next winter storm will bring a wintery mix to the Wasatch Back soon.
Total snow accumulations around Park City and Heber will be up to 6 inches Thursday, Friday and Saturday. High elevation mountains could see a foot during that time.
Meteorologist Thomas Geboy said the snow will stay above 7,500 feet Thursday. Areas below that will see rain.
1:17 PM Radar is showing valley rain (with embedded thunder) and mountain snow moving through southern Utah. Some of the convection has created strong wind gusts with 58 mph at Cedar City airport and 55 mph near Leeds. This will move into northern Utah this evening. #utwx #wywx pic.twitter.com/4OZwwabqw4— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) February 1, 2024
The Utah Department of Transportation said drivers could see minor and intermittent travel impacts through Friday.
Temps will drop steadily through the week, increasing the chance for snow at lower elevations. Geboy said there’s a break in the action Sunday before more precipitation moves in.
“The chance of snow will be increasing in the Wasatch Back by the time we get into Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with what could be another atmospheric river event,” he said.
These airborne waterways were a main contributor to Utah’s record-breaking winter last year.
The Utah Avalanche Center is on avalanche watch and considering an avalanche warning for southern Utah, which forecaster Trent Meisenheimer said is particularly dangerous.
There's been a persistent weak layer in the snow from December with a hard slab on top of it, which may get heavier with these storms.
Today, there is a MODERATE avalanche danger that exists on steep west to north to southeast facing slopes for triggering a 2-5' thick hard slab avalanche that fails on a buried persistent weak layer of faceted snow. Photo: Catch and carry in Upper Days Fork. pic.twitter.com/0OxLvbI6VB— UtahAvalancheCenter (@UACwasatch) January 31, 2024
“I'm still staying away from steep slopes, especially the ones facing the north half of the compass,” Mesenheimer said. “Triggering an avalanche that's like 3 to 5 feet deep, a couple hundred feet wide and as hard as a rock is just something I personally don't want to do.”
He recommends waiting to let the snowpack heal. Any slopes 30 degrees or steeper, plus areas below those slopes, are considered avalanche terrain.