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 February 16, 2006

Hello, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  It's Thursday February 16th at 9:00 pm.  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 502W, 1400N.

Current Conditions:

It's quite cold in the mountains with below zero temperatures likely across the region.  The new snow from Wednesday certainly did wonders for the backcountry snow conditions.  The best stuff can be found on sheltered shady mid-elevation slopes with soft snow underlying the the light new powder.  I'm sorry to report that winds damaged the new snow on exposed slopes especially at upper elevations, and many fine powder lines are marred by stiff wind-drifts and/or crusts. You can still feel the scratchy old snow surface on many slopes, and although you may be riding in 6 inches to a foot of settled new snow, its far from bottomless powder most places.   The Snotel site at Tony Grove boasts a 48 hr snow water equivalent of 1.3 inches.  The total snow depth is back above 120 inches, and with a staggering 161 percent of normal water content, the station now takes the highest reading in the state. 

Snow and Avalanche Conditions:

The wind-drifts that formed yesterday are much less sensitive today but, with all the fresh light powder, more drifts are building in exposed places.  On some slopes, the new snow buried and preserved a weak sugary or faceted layer, which was on the surface.  We've also been monitoring a weak, faceted/graupel-layer, now 1-2.5 feet below the snow surface.  Both could present lingering avalanche problems as a slab builds in the future...

My biggest concern now is the possibility wind-drifted new snow avalanches on steep slopes.   There is little danger on slopes with only a few inches of freshly accumulated snow, especially those that you tracked from one side to another before the middle of this week.  On the other hand, you might find somewhat more dangerous conditions on steep heavily wind-drifted slopes in areas that received more snow and weren't all tracked up last weekend.  Although probably not very deep, you could trigger a broad avalanche on a slick underlying crust or on weak small-grained sugary snow, which might run fast and far.    Be on the look-out for thick or denser drifts especially on very steep slopes.  Many outlying areas, or those not in the general Logan Canyon area, may have picked up more snow with this storm, and if this is the case, avalanches will be  possible on more steep wind-drifted slopes in the Wellsville Range, the "Front Canyons," and the mountains above Mantua.....

Despite the cold temperatures, seasonal solar warming is a definite possibility on very sunny slopes, especially at lower and mid-elevations (where we got lots of snow), and moist point-release avalanches or sluffs may be possible on some steep slopes in the region.

Bottom Line:

Avalanches are possible on wind-drifted slopes steeper than about 35 degrees in the backcountry, and the overall danger is MODERATE.    You will find a LOW danger on sheltered or lower angle slopes and those with less than a foot of new snow accumulation. 

Mountain Weather:

Friday will be cold and mostly cloudy with periods of light snow and light to moderate southerly winds. Snowfall will intensify Saturday ahead of the next flagging storm.  Although weakening as it passes over northern Utah, this one will have plenty of moisture and ample driving dynamics.  A productive snow event is likely.  The cold and moist pattern will continue into next week with more snow a good bet again Tuesday and beyond.

General Information: 

For a list of recent avalanches in  the regional backcountry go to Avalanche List.  Snow nerds, check out the new Snow Profiles page.  Check out our Images Page for pictures of recent local avalanches.

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...

 This advisory will expire on Friday night. 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.