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

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Hello, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center in Logan.  It's Thursday January 5th at 9:30 pm.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from Import Auto at 502 W 1400N.

Current Conditions:

You'll find fair weather and even warmer temperatures on Friday with a few clouds and lots of sunshine in the mountains.  As you might expect, the surface snow settled out a bit in the past few days and today we found reasonable traveling conditions in deep dense snow.  Exposed upper elevation slopes are wind effected, but still smooth. The surface snow got a bit moist on south facing slopes, and you will find at least a thin crust in the morning.  The nicest "powder" is hiding on sheltered northerly facing slopes, and at mid-elevations.  Riding conditions are pretty good, but its easy to get very stuck in deep moderately soft wind-drifts.

Avalanche Conditions:

We've received no reports of avalanche activity in the Logan area since Tuesday.  With the gradual clearing yesterday, we could see the extent of Monday night's large natural cycle.  The large avalanches occurred in generally shallow areas on heavily wind-drifted slopes cursed with weak sugary or faceted snow formed during or before mid-December.  Yesterday I had a chance to view one of several that roared off the eastern slopes of the Wellsville Range, as I explored the devastated lower reaches of Pine Canyon.  The access to the Wellsville Wilderness crosses private property, and you'll need permission from the land owners to follow me.  But, up-canyon access is blocked a couple hundred feet up from the Forest boundary by some of the worst avalanche debris I've ever experienced.  I spent hours getting almost nowhere winding my way through splintered timber, 30'+ vertical ice-walls, yawning holes, and strange snow towers.  The avalanche broke right at the top (cornice-line) of the huge bowl at the head of Pine Canyon's south fork.  The slide included the full width of the very broad bowl, which drops northeastward into Pine Canyon from the southeast ridge of Box Elder Peak.  By my estimates, the avalanche dropped more than 2500 vertical feet, stopping just below the 6000' elevation mark.

There's still a chance that you could trigger a dangerous hard slab avalanche breaking on weak snow near the ground in an area that was shallow before Christmas.  Control teams using a single 2lbs hand-charge triggered a large slide on a slope with these conditions yesterday near Park City.  Another concern for Friday should be sensitive wind slabs on steep upper elevation slopes. Although most slopes appeared to be fairly stable today, in a few places I noticed a weak graupel-filled layer under around a foot of denser newer snow.  Finally,  midday solar warming could cause a chance of wet point-release type avalanches on sunny slopes, especially at mid-elevations.

Bottom Line:

On Friday we'll see a MODERATE avalanche danger on some slopes steeper than about 35 degrees in the Logan backcountry.  Dangerous hard slab avalanches are still possible on generally shallow but previously wind-drifted slopes facing east through northwest with weak sugary underlying snow.  You could also trigger smaller fresh wind slab avalanches on some very steep wind-drifted slopes and wet point release avalanches on steep slopes with sun-warmed moist surface snow.

Mountain Weather:

Tomorrow, with a temperature inversion in place, it will be warmer at high elevations. The next Pacific storm will move in on Saturday, with snow intensifying Saturday night and lasting into Sunday.  The models are disagreeing over next week's weather pattern, with a deep trough or storminess one option and a dirty ridge another.

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.

   This advisory will expire Friday night, but I will update it again on Saturday morning by about 7:00.

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. 


National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.