Wasatch-Cache National Forest  In partnership with:  Utah State Parks and Recreation, Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center-Logan, and Utah State University College of Natural Resources.

               

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Logan area Avalanche advisory

 

 Saturday  December 17, 2005           

Hello and good morning, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center in Logan.  Itís Saturday, December 15th at 7:00 am.   This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from Simmons Flexi-ski of Providence.

Current Conditions:

Considering the lack of new snow, you can still find remarkably good conditions on lots of slopes in the Logan area.  I've found powder-like re-crystallized conditions across the Bear River Range this week.  With mostly supportable snow underneath the soft surface snow, conditions are perfect for all types of backcountry travel. You'll find the best snow on sheltered mid and upper elevation slopes.  Northerly winds hammered exposed upper elevation slopes earlier in the week, leaving obvious stiff wind-funk on the north and west faces of the highest peaks.  Sunny slopes at lower and mid-elevations developed a thin breakable sun-crust during the past week.  But the snow is still soft and fluffy even on sunny slopes up high.   You can ride anywhere in these conditions, and trail breaking is fairly easy. 

It's 3 degrees this morning at the Campbell Scientific weather station on top of Logan Peak, and a 7-mph northwesterly breeze wafts along the high ridges.  You can expect an inch or two of light snowfall during the day today and a little more tomorrow.  Mountaintop temperatures should climb to a high of about 15 degrees today.

Avalanche Conditions:

A couple inches of light snow won't be enough to change the avalanche conditions much.  Avalanches are unlikely today in the backcountry.  But you might find some small exceptions on very steep slopes.  I was able to start small dry point-release avalanches or sluffs yesterday in the cohesion-less surface snow.  These weren't a problem for me yesterday, but with a little new snow added into the mix you might be pushed into a tree or off a rock.  Also, you might find an isolated wind-drift or two in exposed terrain at high elevations.  Most of these bonded well to the underlying snow, but a few may be resting on weak sugary snow and could be sensitive to your weight on especially steep slopes. 

If we get more snow than expected, and if the wind kicks up, the danger could increase on steep wind-drifted slopes.  The rather cold temperatures of late are rotting out the snowpack, especially where it is shallow.  If you reach in and feel the snow, it feels granular like sand, and you can't get it to stick together in a snowball.  I'm finding very weak snow near the surface on many slopes.  A couple inches of light density snow caps a nice layer of frost crystals or surface hoar.  As you might expect with the cold temperatures and clear nights, I've also found developing weak layers within the existing snowpack.  The only lacking ingredient for avalanches in the region is a cohesive slab, and we need some real weather for that to form.

Bottom Line:

There's a LOW  avalanche danger in the backcountry.  Avalanches are unlikely, with isolated exceptions on very steep slopes.  The danger on some slopes could increase by tomorrow with higher than predicted snowfall or winds.

Mountain Weather:

It should snow a little today, but we'll be happy with the 2 inches forecast.  Cloudy skies with periods of light snow and continued cold temperatures will likely preserve current snow conditions through the weekend. Another small shot of snow is possible late Sunday.  Still no significant storms loom, and a ridge of high pressure, complete with drastically warmer mountain temperatures and valley smog will probably set up over Utah by mid-week.

 

General Information: 

 For a list of our upcoming classes and awareness talks, go to our education page

Snow nerds, check out the new Snow Profiles page.

Please send backcountry observations to [email protected], especially if you see or trigger an avalanche in the backcountry.

  I will update this advisory on Sunday morning.

The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content.  This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. 

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