X
Avalanche Danger Rose: this graphic represents an avalanche forecaster's idea of how the avalanche danger exists across the topography in a given region. It is not a map...it is an idea. Picture it as a cone-shaped mountain viewed from above, built of three elevation bands; the outer ring represents low elevations, the middle ring represents middle elevations, and the innermost circle represents high elevations. Each elevation band is divided into sectors that represent the slope aspect (N-NE-E-SE-S-SW-W-NW). Each sector\'s color represents the avalanche danger rating assigned that day (see Avalanche Danger Scale).

In this example, the Avalanche Danger Rose depicts an avalanche danger rating of considerable on all high elevation aspects and on north to west-facing mid elevations; all other sectors possess moderate avalanche danger. The illustration depicts the spatial distribution of this forecast across a landscape.
X Wind Slabs: A relatively cohesive layer that forms when wind deposits snow on the lee side of ridges, gullies, and other terrain features. These slabs may be soft or extremely hard and can take up to a week to stabilize.
X Loose Wet: Loose wet avalanches release at a point and spread downhill in a conical fashion. They occur where water is running through the snowpack, and release at or below the trigger point. They can be deadly on steep and/or treed slopes and around terrain traps such as cliffs and gullies.
X
Avalanche Problem Rose: this graphic represents an avalanche forecaster's idea of the distribution of a particular avalanche problem across the topography in a given region. Picture it as a cone-shaped mountain viewed from above, built of three elevation bands; the outer ring represents low elevations, the middle ring represents middle elevations, and the innermost circle represents high elevations. Each elevation band is divided into sectors that represent the slope aspect (N-NE-E-SE-S-SW-W-NW). Sectors colored grey are thought to have the identified avalanche problem while white sectors do not.

In this example, the Avalanche Problem Rose indicates that a particular avalanche concern exists on all high elevation aspects and on north to west-facing mid elevations and that this concern is far less likely to be encountered on other aspects and elevations.
X Chance of Avalanches: This graphic depicts how likely you are to trigger avalanches or encounter natural avalanches while traveling on avalanche prone slopes. Unlikely means that few avalanches could be triggered in avalanche terrain and natural avalanches are not expected. The chance of triggering or observing avalanches increases as we move up the scale. Certain means that humans will be able to trigger avalanches on many slopes, and natural avalanches should be expected.
X Size of Avalanches: This graphic depicts the potential size and destructive force of expected avalanches. Small avalanches are not large enough to bury humans and are relatively harmless unless they carry people over cliffs or through trees or rocks. Moving up the scale, avalanches become large enough to bury, injure, or kill people, large enough to bury or destroy vehicles and break a few trees, and large enough to destroy railway cars, buildings, or a substantial amount of forest. Historic avalanches are massive events capable of destroying villages and gouging or altering the landscape.
X

LOW: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

X

MODERATE: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.

X

CONSIDERABLE: Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.

X

HIGH: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

X

EXTREME: Avoid all avalanche terrain.

Current Advisory
December 21, 2014 7:30 am by Scott Savage

All Zones | Sawtooth Mountains | Smoky & Boulder Mountains | Wood River Valley | Soldier Mountains

AVALANCHE WARNING IN EFFECT

An Avalanche Warning has been issued. Heavy snowfall, strong winds, rain, and warm temperatures are creating very dangerous conditions. Large natural and human triggered wind slab and storm slab avalanches are likely and travel is not recommended in avalanche terrain. This warning will expire or be continued by 7:30AM Monday morning.

 

Sawtooth Mountains

Bottom Line: The avalanche danger is HIGH. Heavy snowfall and strong winds are creating very dangerous conditions - both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely. Some avalanches may be large and run into flat terrain. Rain during the day will produce wet loose avalanches on lower elevation steep slopes. Don't travel or play in or beneath avalanche terrain today.

Primary Avalanche Concern

Wind Slabs   

Aspect/Elevation   

Certain
Unlikely

Chance of Avalanches   

Historic
Small

Size of Avalanches   

This area received 8-14" of dense snow (1-2" SWE) overnight and winds shifted to the W, increasing to 20-40 mph. Winds will continue to ramp up this morning while heavy snowfall continues and temperatures rise. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the mountains will be downright scary today. Expect 2-5 foot deep wind slabs to release naturally during the day today in exposed upper elevation terrain. Avalanches have the potential to be large and destructive, running to the valley floors in places. Strong winds will form wind slabs in some middle elevation terrain as well. While we don't have a singular, widespread weak layer in these mountains, some slopes have crusts+small faceted crystals and possibly surface hoar in the upper part of the snowpack or larger, sugary faceted crystals closer to the ground; whether the weak link is a persistent weak layer or just the dense storm snow, avalanches are likely on steep, non-wind loaded slopes today.

Secondary Avalanche Concern

Loose Wet   

Aspect/Elevation   

Certain
Unlikely

Chance of Avalanches   

Historic
Small

Size of Avalanches   

Temperatures increase during the day today, causing the rain/snow level to rise to 7000-7500' elevation. Rain falling on new snow will quickly increase the chance of wet loose avalanches. While these avalanches will not be large, slopes can go from stable to unstable in minutes. Steer clear of any steep, snow-covered slopes if rain is falling.

Weather Forecast

Sawtooth Mtns at 9,200'

Last Night
Recorded Past 24 Hours

Today
Expected Through 5pm

Tonight
Expected 5pm - 5am

Temperature

29 F 35 F 20 F

Sky Cover

Obscured Obscured Obscured

Wind Speed

Moderate Strong Moderate

Wind Direction

SW W NW

Snowfall

8-14" 8-16" 6-10"

Avalanche Notes

Storm Totals as of 5am: snowfall and (SWE)

Banner Summit: 12" (1.20)
Stanley R.S.: (0.56)
Vienna Mine: 12'' (1.70)
Smiley Ck Airport: (0.60)
Atlanta Summit: 18" (2.30)
Galena Summit: (1.00)
Galena: 8" (1.10)
Lower Titus: 10"
Nfork Wood/Choc: 6" (0.60)
Lost-Wood Divide: (1.00)
Baldy: 9" (0.63)
Dollarhide: (1.10)
Ketchum R.S.: 7" (0.56)
Hyndman: 6" (0.60)
Trinity: (2.00)
Soldier R.S.: (1.40)

Mountain Weather Summary

The powerful storm arrived last night as advertised, dropping 8-14" of dense, heavy snow in the Sawtooths, Soldiers, and western Smoky Mountains (1-2" SWE) and 6-9" snow (.5-1" SWE) closer to Ketchum (see detailed Storm Totals in the Avalanche Notes section). Ridgetop winds shifted W/NW and increased to moderate to strong speeds overnight while mountain temperatures remained in the upper 20's to lower 30's F. Today, moderate to heavy snowfall continues, depositing an additional 8-16" in the western and northern mountains by Monday morning and 3-5" in the Wood River Valley area. Temperatures rise during the day today, elevating the rain/snow line to 7000-7500' at times. Strong to extreme NW winds will rake the upper elevations before decreasing to moderate speeds tonight.

Temperatures cool to the teens to 20's F after dark while snow continues, favoring the northern and western Smoky and Sawtooth Mountains. Snow showers continue in these areas on Monday while the mountains closer to Ketchum see mostly cloudy skies with some flurries. Expect cooler conditions with high temperatures reaching the 20's F and moderate NW winds on the ridgetops.

Sawtooth Mountains

Sawtooth Mtns at 9,200'

Last Night
Recorded Past 24 Hours

Today
Expected Through 5pm

Tonight
Expected 5pm - 5am

Temperature

29 F 35 F 20 F

Sky Cover

Obscured Obscured Obscured

Wind Speed

Moderate Strong Moderate

Wind Direction

SW W NW

Snowfall

8-14" 8-16" 6-10"

Smoky & Boulder Mountains

Titus Ridge at 10,000'

Last Night
Recorded Past 24 Hours

Today
Expected Through 5pm

Tonight
Expected 5pm - 5am

Temperature

27 F 33 F 15 F

Sky Cover

Obscured Obscured Obscured

Wind Speed

Moderate Strong Moderate

Wind Direction

W W NW

Snowfall

8-14" 6-12" 3-5"
           

Wood River Valley

Baldy at 9,000'

Last Night
Recorded Past 24 Hours

Today
Expected Through 5pm

Tonight
Expected 5pm - 5am

Temperature

27 F 33 F 20 F

Sky Cover

Obscured Mostly Cloudy Mostly Cloudy

Wind Speed

Moderate Moderate Moderate

Wind Direction

SW W NW

Snowfall

6-9" 3-5" trace-1"
   

Soldier Mountains

Peak 2 at 9,000'

Last Night
Recorded Past 24 Hours

Today
Expected Through 5pm

Tonight
Expected 5pm - 5am

Temperature

28 F 34 F 20 F

Sky Cover

Obscured Obscured Obscured

Wind Speed

Strong Extreme Strong

Wind Direction

W NW NW

Snowfall

8-14" 6-10" 2-4"
           

General Information

Your observations remain invaluable! Please let us know what you're seeing in the backcountry, especially if you see or trigger any avalanches. You can email us photos and observations at info@sawtoothavalanche.com, fill out the Observations form on our website, or leave a message at 208-622-0095.