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Tutorial: Reading the forecast

This section is a summary of our avalanche forecast including an overall danger rating and a "Danger Rose" which displays avalanche danger by aspect and elevation. This section highlights the most important avalanche information for the day.

Danger Ratings include 5 levels.

The "Danger Rose" is a general representation of how avalanche danger varies across terrain by aspect and elevation. In the example diagram, the danger is CONSIDERABLE for elevations between 8000' to 9500' and above 9500' and terrain that faces northwest, north and northeast. and east.
Avalanche Warning
An Avalanche Warning is issued when there is currently very dangerous avalanche conditions, and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended, or should be avoided entirely. An Avalanche Warning is typically preceded by an Avalanche Watch.
Avalanche Watch
An Avalanche Watch is issued when very dangerous avalanche conditions are expected in the next 24-48 hours. In most situations, an Avalanche Warning follows an Avalanche Watch.
Special Avalanche Bulletin
A Special Avalanche Bulletin is issued when dangerous avalanche conditions are expected in combination with a lot of people in the mountains, but conditions do not meet the level for an Avalanche Warning. It can be any scenario that warrants special attention.
Special Announcements
This section is used for informing users about UDOT avalanche closures, ski area related avalanche closures, and pertinent events that people might find interesting.
Weather and Snow
We summarize the most important aspects of snow and weather. This summary typically includes the last 24 hours of weather, current weather, and a weather forecast for the next 24 hours. Weather includes snowfall, wind and temperature. This summary can also include a few notes about the snow surface and riding conditions.
Recent Avalanches
In this section we talk about any recent avalanches that we have information about. We include things like:
  • What triggered the avalanche. Was it human triggered or natural?
  • Where was the avalanche. Aspect and Elevation?
  • How large was the avalanche. Depth, width, and vertical distance.
  • What was the weak layer of snow that the avalanche failed on.
Example Photo: Recent sled triggered avalanche in the Western Uinta Mountains. This avalanche happened on a north facing slope at 10,000' in elevation. The avalanche failed on a weak, sugary, layer of faceted snow.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
We use this section to talk about the most pertinent avalanche problem or concern. We use a narrative to describe what is going on and what to look for. There are numerous avalanche problems which we use.

We use an aspect/elevation diagram. It is also called a "location rose" which indicates where you will most likely find that avalanche problem.
In the example diagram, the Wind Drifted Snow avalanche problem will be found on slopes that face northwest, north, northeast, east at mid and upper elevations indicated in blue. It can still be found at other elevations and aspects, but is not likely.

We use a likelihood scale which indicates how likely it is to trigger an avalanche with this problem.
The blue arrow indicates the likelihood of encountering and triggering this avalanche problem.

We use a size scale to indicate how large the avalanches are expected to be related to this avalanche problem.
The blue arrow indicates how large or small the expected avalanches will be by depth or width or both. Small avalanches can be somewhat harmless to people unless they run into a terrain trap. Large avalanches can destroy a house or take out sections of forest. Any avalanche can kill or bury you depending on where it runs.
Additional Information
We use this for any other regional information that our users may find useful. This may include extended weather forecasts, or a discussion or video on a topic related to snow safety, etc.
General Announcements
This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This forecast is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.