X Elevation Bands: Upper Elevation refers to the region where wind plays a dominant role in shaping the mountain snowpack. Alpine cirques, bowls, and exposed ridges are examples of this terrain. Trees are very sparse or do not exist at all. This zone receives more snowfall than Middle and Lower Elevations, but the wind can aggressively redistribute the snow and create large expanses of bare rock or ground in the middle of winter. Snowpack depths can vary greatly at Upper Elevations. Lower Elevation terrain includes slopes within a few hundred vertical feet of valley floors in the major drainages. This includes avalanche paths that can block rivers, strike roadways and large glacial lakes, and bury cross country ski trails. This band receives the least snowfall – and the most rain – of the three elevation bands. Middle Elevation terrain receives less snowfall than Upper Elevations, but the snowpack depths vary less due to less wind. Over the course of an average year, avalanches occur most frequently at Upper Elevations and least often in Lower Elevation terrain.
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
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
Wednesday December 13, 2017 7:30 am by Scott Savage

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

Smoky & Boulder Mountains - Bottom Line

You probably need to search for places to trigger avalanches today. In extreme alpine terrain, there’s an outside chance you could trigger old wind drifts where they overlie slick, icy crusts.

1. Low

Upper Elevation

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

1. Low

Middle Elevation

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

1. Low

Lower Elevation

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

Special Announcement

Don’t miss our first Introduction to Avalanches class this Thursday night at 6PM at the Hemingway School in Ketchum. Catch an encore presentation of the Homegrown film festival Friday at the Sun Valley Opera House - click here for ticket information. We are phasing out the danger rose. Visit the Avalanche Notes tab on the Advisory page for more information.

Primary Avalanche Problem

Wind Slabs

Location

Almost Certain
Very Likely
Likely
Possible
Unlikely

Chance

Historic
Very Large
Large
Small

Size

Sadly, it’s been 10 days since the last storm hit the area. Over the last week, the wind slabs that formed in early December became stubborn, or difficult to trigger. You’re most likely to find these slabs in exposed alpine terrain. You’re unlikely to trigger avalanches today, but it’s always worth considering the consequences of even a small avalanche before committing to serious lines.

Although temperatures have remained above freezing for several nights in some upper elevation terrain, breezy NW winds and partly cloudy skies should all but eliminate the threat of wet loose avalanches today. If skies remain clear and winds are calmer than expected, you should pay attention when traveling on or below steep, upper elevation, south-facing slopes sheltered from wind.     

Additional Discussion: Today’s canvas is next week’s problem. The extended dry spell has formed several weak layers at or near the snow surface: crusts and crust-facet combinations, facets, and surface hoar. The variable distribution (now you see them, now you don’t) of the different weak layers will make it very challenging to know if a slope is safe when the surface weak layers get buried and slabs build above them. Note what the surface snow is like now in your favorite play areas so you’re ahead of the game when we’re all scratching our heads about snow stability in the future. Remember where you see those feathery surface hoar crystals while you don’t have to dig holes to find them. And please submit an observation to let us know what the snow is like where you’re playing!

Weather Forecast

Smoky & Boulder Mts

Last Night
5PM - 5AM

Today
5AM - 5PM

Tonight
5PM - 5AM

Temperature

34 F 39 F 19 F

Cloud Cover

Clear Partly Cloudy Decreasing

Ridgetop Wind Speed

Moderate Moderate Moderate

Wind Direction

NW NW N

Snowfall

24hr: 0" 12hr: 0"
0-trace" 0"

Mountain Weather Summary

Yesterday, mountain temperatures reached the 40’s F, skies were clear, and generally light northerly winds blew on the ridgetops. Overnight, intermittent clouds moved through the area and N/NW winds increased to light to moderate speeds. Winds were strong in the Soldier’s. Mountain temperatures cooled to the 20’s and 30’s F with many upper elevation locations remaining above freezing for the 3rd night in a row. Valley temperatures dipped to the teens and 20’s F.

Today, a weak area of low pressure moves through central Idaho but remains north of the advisory area, pushing snowfall to the east of us. Expect mostly cloudy skies in the Sawtooths with flurries and possibly some light snow showers for a few hours this afternoon. The mountains closer to Ketchum and Fairfield should see variably cloudy skies and dry conditions. Temperatures reach the 30’s and lower 40’s F, and moderate NW winds blow on the ridgetops.

This evening and tonight, skies clear, breezy N winds develop, and temperatures cool to the teens and 20’s F. The persistent ridge of high pressure rebuilds - expect more sunshine Thursday and Friday before another weak system reaches central Idaho Friday night.

Sawtooth Mountains

Sawtooth Mountains

Last Night
5PM - 5AM

Today
5AM - 5PM

Tonight
5PM - 5AM

Temperature

28 F 35 F 16 F

Cloud Cover

Clear Mostly Cloudy Decreasing

Ridgetop Wind Speed

Light Light Moderate

Wind Direction

Variable NW N

Snowfall

24hr: 0" 12hr: 0"
0-1" 0"

Smoky & Boulder Mountains

Smoky & Boulder Mts

Last Night
5PM - 5AM

Today
5AM - 5PM

Tonight
5PM - 5AM

Temperature

34 F 39 F 19 F

Cloud Cover

Clear Partly Cloudy Decreasing

Ridgetop Wind Speed

Moderate Moderate Moderate

Wind Direction

NW NW N

Snowfall

24hr: 0" 12hr: 0"
0-trace" 0"
           

Wood River Valley

WRV Mountains

Last Night
5PM - 5AM

Today
5AM - 5PM

Tonight
5PM - 5AM

Temperature

37 F 40 F 25 F

Cloud Cover

Clear Partly Cloudy Decreasing

Ridgetop Wind Speed

Light Moderate Moderate

Wind Direction

NW NW N

Snowfall

24hr: 0" 12hr: 0"
0" 0"
   

Soldier Mountains

Soldier Mountains

Last Night
5PM - 5AM

Today
5AM - 5PM

Tonight
5PM - 5AM

Temperature

37 F 42 F 30 F

Cloud Cover

Clear Partly Cloudy Decreasing

Ridgetop Wind Speed

Strong Strong Strong

Wind Direction

NW NW N

Snowfall

24hr: 0" 12hr: 0"
0" 0"
           

Observations

Please the Avalanche Center to delete an observation.

All observations submitted by the public are not screened, edited, or checked for accuracy by the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.

View Date(s) Submitted Observer Zone Location
12.10.17 12.11.17 10:42 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Mushroom Ridge
12.10.17 12.11.17 8:02 am Public Banner Summit Copper
12.10.17 12.10.17 10:45 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
View Attachment 12.10.17 12.10.17 8:40 pm Public other Washington Basin
12.08.17 12.08.17 9:05 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
View Attachment 12.08.17 12.08.17 7:12 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Prairie Ck - Pt 9483
View Attachment 12.07.17 12.08.17 6:47 am Public Sawtooth Mountains Elevator shaft. McDonald Peak.
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 12.06.17 12.06.17 9:18 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains Profile
12.06.17 12.06.17 6:36 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Senate Peak
View Attachment 12.02.17 - 12.05.17 12.06.17 10:26 am Pro Sawtooth Mountains Fishhook and Bench Huts
View Attachment 12.05.17 12.05.17 7:29 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains SW ridge Easley Peak
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 12.04.17 12.04.17 8:02 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains SSW ridge Goat Peak
View Attachment 12.03.17 12.04.17 7:53 am Public Banner Summit Up the Standard route of Copper SW ridge. Skied off the NW side of the Ridge line .
12.03.17 12.03.17 10:07 pm Pro Smoky & Boulder Mountains Mushroom, gladiator summit
View Attachment 12.03.17 12.03.17 7:50 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
View Attachment 12.03.17 12.03.17 6:06 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Summit (The Cross)
View Attachment 12.02.17 12.02.17 9:59 pm SAC Wood River Valley Big Basin
12.01.17 12.01.17 7:55 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Spring-Cherry
12.01.17 12.01.17 7:45 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Upper Titus Wx Station
11.29.17 11.29.17 3:54 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Avalanche Peak
11.28.17 11.28.17 5:23 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Avy ridge area
View Attachment View Attachment 11.27.17 11.27.17 8:35 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge -> Wx Station Pk. -> Titus Cr.
View Attachment 11.27.17 11.27.17 7:20 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Avalanche Peak
11.26.17 11.27.17 5:35 pm Public Sawtooth Mountains Fisher Creek - viewing the range
View Attachment View Attachment 11.26.17 11.26.17 5:00 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Pk
View Attachment 11.25.17 11.25.17 4:11 pm Pro Smoky & Boulder Mountains Mushroom Ridge
View Attachment 11.19.17 11.21.17 7:25 pm Public Banner Summit Copper Tour
11.20.17 11.20.17 10:40 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge
11.20.17 7:51 am Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Twin Bowls
View Attachment 11.18.17 11.18.17 8:31 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Eagle Creek
11.18.17 11.18.17 3:51 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus lake chutes
11.18.17 11.18.17 7:50 am Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena, above twin bowls
View Attachment View Attachment 11.16.17 2:24 pm Public Wood River Valley
11.13.17 11.15.17 11:28 am Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus ridge south of weather station
View Attachment 11.14.17 11.14.17 7:13 pm SAC Banner Summit Copper
View Attachment View Attachment 11.12.17 11.13.17 10:34 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Summit - The Cross
View Attachment 11.12.17 11.13.17 11:21 am Public Banner Summit Copper Proper
11.04.17 11.08.17 8:41 am Public Banner Summit Banner Summit
View Attachment View Attachment 11.07.17 11.07.17 3:21 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Lower Titus and Titus Ridge
View Attachment 11.01.17 11.02.17 10:24 am Public Sawtooth Mountains Williams Yurt
View Attachment 10.30.17 11.02.17 10:12 am Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
View Attachment 10.28.17 10.29.17 8:40 am Public Banner Summit Bull Trout Point
View Attachment View Attachment 10.05.17 10.05.17 7:57 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Baker Peak
05.03.17 05.03.17 8:20 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
05.01.17 05.01.17 9:15 pm Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Spring Ck/Cherry Ck divide
View Attachment 04.19.17 04.22.17 7:31 am Public Sawtooth Mountains Horstmann Peak - northeast cirque
04.21.17 04.22.17 7:20 am Public Smoky & Boulder Mountains Boulder Ck drainage
04.16.17 6:44 am Public twin bowls
04.15.17 04.15.17 7:40 pm Public Banner Summit Vader-Marsh Ck
04.15.17 04.15.17 6:53 pm SAC Wood River Valley Hyndman
04.14.17 04.14.17 6:56 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Spring/Cherry Divide
04.13.17 04.13.17 6:48 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Frenchman Ck
View Attachment 04.12.17 04.12.17 7:18 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Silver Ck/Boulder Ck (ridge going S from Silver Peak)
View Attachment 04.09.17 04.09.17 3:21 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Shoulder
04.08.17 04.08.17 6:14 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Smiley Creek-> Vienna
04.07.17 04.07.17 6:56 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge -> Lower Titus WX Station. Then, Mushrom Ridge
04.05.17 04.05.17 7:31 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge to Upper Titus Weather Station
View Attachment 04.01.17 04.01.17 5:59 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Pk
03.31.17 03.31.17 7:14 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Peak 2
03.30.17 03.30.17 8:02 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Summit - Cross side
03.29.17 03.29.17 6:50 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge to Weather Station Peak
View Attachment 03.27.17 03.27.17 3:11 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains McDonald Peak
View Attachment View Attachment 03.25.17 03.25.17 5:45 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Miller Ridge
03.23.17 03.23.17 6:02 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Headwaters
03.23.17 03.23.17 4:44 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Boulder Ck/Dry Canyon (rec trip)
View Attachment 03.22.17 03.22.17 7:28 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Horton Peak
03.17.17 - 03.20.17 03.20.17 3:10 pm SAC Wood River Valley Pioneers (Hyndman and N Fork Hyndman Ck via yurt - recreational trip)
03.20.17 03.20.17 3:07 pm SAC Banner Summit Copper Mtn
03.19.17 03.19.17 6:01 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Summit -> Owl Creek
03.16.17 03.16.17 6:33 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Pk shoulder
View Attachment View Attachment 03.14.17 03.15.17 3:50 am SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus Ridge to "Weather Station Peak"
03.13.17 03.13.17 5:06 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Gladiator Peak
03.12.17 03.12.17 5:46 pm SAC Wood River Valley Carbonate (rec trip)
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 03.12.17 03.12.17 4:14 pm SAC Warm Springs, Galena Pass
03.11.17 03.11.17 5:54 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Easley Peak
View Attachment View Attachment 03.11.17 03.11.17 4:08 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Salt Bowns
View Attachment 03.10.17 03.10.17 7:57 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Upper Vienna
03.09.17 03.09.17 7:20 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Point W of Baker Lake
03.09.17 03.09.17 6:15 pm SAC Wood River Valley Sun Mt/Trail Ck
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 03.08.17 03.08.17 9:33 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains McDonald Peak area (Cabin Ck-S Fork Vat Ck divide)
03.06.17 03.06.17 5:09 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Peak 2
03.05.17 03.05.17 7:29 pm SAC Wood River Valley Croy/Colorado Gulch (rec trip)
03.03.17 03.03.17 8:51 pm SAC Wood River Valley Ohio Gulch/Big Wood River (rec trip)
03.01.17 03.01.17 8:12 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Smiley and Vienna Creeks
View Attachment 02.28.17 - 02.28.17 02.28.17 5:33 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Silver Ck/Baker Ck
View Attachment 02.25.17 02.25.17 3:04 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Boulder Ck/Dry Canyon (rec day/not working)
02.23.17 02.23.17 8:22 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Cross (rec day/not working)
02.22.17 02.22.17 8:47 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains glassing from HWY 75 Ketchum to Smiley Creek
02.21.17 02.21.17 1:40 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Highway 75 Ketchum to Stanley
02.20.17 02.20.17 6:46 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Peak
02.19.17 02.19.17 4:52 pm SAC Wood River Valley Etna
02.12.17 02.12.17 5:56 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Peak 2
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 02.11.17 02.11.17 5:23 pm SAC Drive to Galena Lodge then Top of Baldy
View Attachment 02.10.17 02.10.17 5:08 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Dry Canyon
View Attachment 02.09.17 02.09.17 9:12 pm SAC Wood River Valley weather and avalanche obs Hailey to Smiley Creek
01.31.17 01.31.17 5:08 pm SAC Banner Summit Valley Ck/Stanley Lake Ck
01.23.17 01.23.17 3:38 pm SAC Highway 75 to Stanley Basin Lookout. Short walk out Spring Creek.
01.22.17 01.22.17 8:59 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains Stanley area and driving to Ketchum
01.22.17 01.22.17 5:23 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Owl Creek
01.13.17 01.13.17 9:17 pm SAC Wood River Valley Croy/Colorado Gulch divide area via Croy
View Attachment 01.11.17 01.11.17 9:32 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Horton Peak
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 01.09.17 - 01.09.17 01.09.17 2:31 pm SAC Wood River Valley South Valley - Roadside
View Attachment 01.04.17 01.04.17 9:10 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Fox Peak
01.02.17 - 01.02.17 01.02.17 5:30 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Baker Creek
01.01.17 - 01.01.17 01.01.17 3:27 pm SAC Wood River Valley Etna
12.29.16 12.29.16 7:00 pm SAC Banner Summit glassing Sawtooths on way to Cape Horn area
12.28.16 12.28.16 10:02 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains glassing Hailey-Smiley Ck
12.27.16 12.27.16 9:01 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Smiley Ck
View Attachment View Attachment View Attachment 12.26.16 12.26.16 6:14 pm SAC Soldier Mountains Salt Bowns
View Attachment View Attachment 12.20.16 - 12.20.16 12.20.16 4:42 pm SAC Wood River Valley Baldy OB
12.18.16 12.18.16 4:18 pm SAC Wood River Valley SNRA, Murdock Creek
View Attachment 12.17.16 12.17.16 6:43 pm Pro Smoky & Boulder Mountains Camp Creek
View Attachment 12.17.16 12.17.16 4:24 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains Highway Obs
12.14.16 12.15.16 4:32 am SAC Wood River Valley Baldy OB
View Attachment View Attachment 12.11.16 12.11.16 5:39 pm SAC Sawtooth Mountains McDonald Peak
View Attachment View Attachment 12.10.16 12.10.16 6:04 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Baker Creek to Baker Lake
View Attachment 12.07.16 12.07.16 3:46 pm Pro Smoky & Boulder Mountains Titus
View Attachment View Attachment 12.06.16 12.06.16 8:09 pm Pro Wood River Valley Titus
View Attachment View Attachment 12.02.16 12.05.16 9:32 am SAC Banner Summit Copper
12.04.16 12.04.16 9:34 pm SAC Smoky & Boulder Mountains Galena Pass to Upper Titus WX station and back

Avalanche Notes

What happened to the danger rose? The Sawtooth Avalanche Center is switching to a mountain elevation graphic to depict avalanche danger at different elevations. For now, you can still view the danger rose by clicking the blue button below the mountain elevation graphic.

Why the change? The danger rose was a valuable tool before the advent of Avalanche Problems (check out this video for a brief but excellent tutorial). Avalanche Problems are an extension of the danger scale, and provide nuance and specificity to the day’s avalanche danger. Avalanche Problems are composed of four elements: the kind of expected avalanche, where that avalanche may exist in the terrain, the chances you could trigger it, and how big it will be. Because the Avalanche Problem content addresses the “where” question (at what elevation and aspect a particular type of avalanche is most likely to occur), the danger rose is redundant. The Bottom Line portion of the website - including the Avalanche Danger Rating -  is designed to paint a broad brushstroke of daily conditions and offer general travel advice. The Avalanche Problem section is the place for you to drill down deeper to learn where you’re most likely to encounter specific avalanche problem types.

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center is one of the last US avalanche centers to stop using the danger rose. The danger rose served its purpose as a valuable graphical tool for many years, but eliminating it will improve messaging consistency on operational, regional, and national scales. We appreciate your understanding and encourage you to refer to this video for more information about the avalanche danger scale.