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

Tuesday April 4, 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 Tuesday April 4th 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 The Trailhead.

Mountain Weather:

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the region starting at midnight tonight and extending through Thursday evening.  Rain will fall up to around 9000' overnight and continue into Wednesday before the rain/snow line drops with frontal passage in mid-afternoon. 15 to 30 inches of snow accumulation is forecast at the highest elevations by Thursday evening, and a solid foot could fall at lower elevations once the precipitation switches over to snow.  Strong west and northwest winds will accompany periods of heavy snowfall.  Another brief high pressure system should move over the region for the end of the week. 

Current Conditions:

For the first time this season, clement temperatures turned even the highest elevation snow into structure-lacking mush. Slopes facing all directions are afflicted by saturated surface snow, and you sink all the way to the ground in the sodden slop in lots of lower and mid-elevation areas, just like you might sink into knee-deep quicksand.  9500' temperatures on Logan Peak approached 40 degrees for the second straight day, and they're likely to stay above or near freezing for the second straight night tonight.  If you get your sled stuck in this heavy wet snow, especially on the flats at lower elevations, it could take some effort to get out. 

 Snow and Avalanche Conditions:

Given the wild weather and the rapidly changing snow, Wednesday seems like a good day to use elevated caution in the backcountry.  Today, I saw numerous wet avalanches on steep slopes at all elevations.  Cloud-cover and warm winds will prevent a solid surface re-freeze tonight, and the the problem is likely to persist until the temperatures drop for a time.  Overnight rain, even at higher elevations, will cause an increased danger of wet avalanches on all slopes at all elevations on Wednesday.  With the snow in it's structure-less isothermal state, wet point-release and slab avalanches are possible in many areas, and a few glide avalanches might occur.  Dropping temperatures with the midday cold front will begin to solidify things, but the incoming wind-driven snow will be falling on a warm moist surface, and it may not bond well.  Heavy snowfall and high winds are forecast for a fairly sustained time-period, so drifting and wind-slab avalanches will soon top our list of immediate concerns.

 Huge cornices are sagging precariously, and some may be sensitive to your weight.  Several people have taken nasty rides recently in the Central Wasatch, when deceitful cornices broke under their weight.  Sadly, a large cornice-fall tragically killed a backcountry snowboarder yesterday in the backcountry near Brighten.  The enormous ridge-top cornice collapsed under the 27 year-old's weight, triggering an avalanche in very steep terrain underneath. (see UAC report)  High winds, snowfall and continuing warm temperatures will probably keep these monsters active and worthy of our respect for a while.  

Bottom Line:

There's a CONSIDERABLE danger, with wet avalanches probable on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees in the backcountry.  Heavy snowfall and high winds will also cause a rising danger of new snow and wind-drift avalanches as the storm progresses. Between late afternoon and Thursday, the danger may rise to CONSIDERABLE  on steep slopes with significant deposits of wind-drifted snow.

General Information: 

I hate to report that renown skier and mountain guide, Doug Coombs was killed in a ski mountaineering accident near La Grave, France on Monday.

If you're confused by some of our avalanche terms check out the cool new Avalanche Encyclopedia

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 Wednesday night.  I will update it again Thursday evening.

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.