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Logan area Avalanche advisory

Sunday January 15, 2006

Hello and good morning, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  It's Sunday January 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 Import Auto, located at 502 W 1400 N.

Mountain Weather:

The National Weather Service in SLC has issued a Winter Storm Watch for all the mountains of Utah through early tomorrow morning.  After a brief lull in the action this morning, precipitation rates will pick up drastically by midday and continue well into the evening.  Under a moderately strong northwesterly flow, a foot or two of accumulation is possible in favored upper elevation areas by late tonight.  At that point, the wind-flow will shift and come out of the north, which should shut down snowfall and bring in some arctic-like temperatures for Monday night.

Current Conditions:

It's a good thing more snow is on the way.  Yesterday's high southwest winds and accompanying warmth really played havoc with snow conditions in all but the shady sheltered terrain.  The ridge-top wind was so strong at one point it picked my shovel right off the snow and sent it skittering off a small cornice and into a rapidly forming drift.  All day yesterday, southwesterly winds sustained 35 to 40+ mph hourly averages at the CSI weather station atop Logan Peak.  High winds ripped stunning plumes of snow off exposed ridges and high peaks, and surface drifting built stiff and active drifts on the lee sides of ridge-tops and around terrain features in exposed areas.   Overnight, around 3 inches with .3 inches of water fell at the 8400' Tony Grove Snotel site, and there's 104 inches of total snow on the ground.

Avalanche Conditions:

The drifting caused widespread natural avalanching in localized exposed terrain yesterday afternoon.  Ridge-top drifts became sensitive early.  At about 2:00, when I went to retrieve my shovel below the small cornice, I easily triggered a small avalanche in the drift. .  The 80' wide by 1' slide quickly and harmlessly came to a rest on the low angle slope below, but it hinted at the sensitive nature of these rapidly formed drifts and cornices.  Observers, who stayed out a little later in the afternoon, reported natural ridge-top hard slabs up to a couple feet deep on the top of north facing slopes in the Logan Peak area. Spontaneous cornice-fall triggered lots of similar stuff across the region. There's a chance you could trigger a dangerous avalanche on some steep east and north facing slopes today, especially those with recently formed wind-drifts or hard slabs. You'll  need to be cautious of terrain features like gullies and rock-bands where snow-drifts built up yesterday.  The normally easy to identify drifts will already be hiding under a couple inches of new snow.  With rapid snow accumulation and somewhat windy conditions today, the avalanche danger will be on the rise...  By late afternoon, the danger on steep wind-drifted slopes will be more widespread and potential avalanches larger.  The quickly accumulating snow alone might cause a danger on steep slopes, even in sheltered terrain. Natural avalanches will become more likely, and I won't be surprised if some avalanche paths slide overnight...

Bottom Line:

This morning there's generally a  MODERATE avalanche danger in the backcountry with avalanches possible on some slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with substantial deposits of recently wind-drifted snow.  In particular, you could trigger dangerous wind-drift avalanches on upper elevation east and north facing slopes exposed to substantial wind-drifting.   The danger will rise to  CONSIDERABLE by mid-afternoon with heavy snowfall and moderately strong winds.  Potential avalanches could get bigger and be more widespread in the height of the storm today, and some natural avalanches are possible overnight.

General Information: 

 For a list of our upcoming classes and awareness talks, go to our Education page . For a list of recent avalanches in  the regional backcountry go to Avalanche List.  Snow nerds, check out the new Snow Profiles page.  You may enjoy our Images Page.

Please send backcountry observations to [email protected] or leave a message at 755-3638, especially if you see or trigger an avalanche in the backcountry. We really want to hear from you, even if you think your observation is unimportant.    The information you provide may save lives...

I will update this advisory Monday 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.