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

Sunday April 16, 2006

Good morning and happy Easter, this is Toby Weed of  the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory. It's Sunday April 16th 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 you.  We operate thanks to local public support.

Current Conditions:

It didn't take much to get the sled stuck in bottomless wet cement yesterday, and  you'll find challenging riding or turning conditions today at all elevations.  The snow even up high is sopping wet and it's lost structure and strength on lots of slopes.  The only somewhat supportable snow we found was either on the groomed road or in places at higher elevations.  Once again it did not get cold overnight and there wasn't an adequate surface re-freeze.  Any superficial crust that formed on the surface overnight will quickly disappear with today's warmth. Wind-blasted slopes at upper elevations may be your best hope for supportable conditions.  The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the mountains in our area for tonight through late Monday night.

Snow and Avalanche Conditions:

 It's still way too warm, and the rapid melt-down is causing serious wet avalanche problems on steep slopes in the backcountry.  Yesterday my party triggered a few wet point-release avalanches, which entrained a good deal of snow.  In some cases, these slow moving and easily managed slides could trigger a larger and more dangerous wet slab avalanche, simply by over-running a steep melt-weakened slope.   Although clouds obscured my views throughout the day, I noticed some larger and significant recent natural wet avalanches on the east face of Magog.  Most of the short steep slopes above Tony Grove Lake also had shed the rain-soaked surface layer in broadening point releases. More natural and triggered wet avalanches are likely in the region today, especially as it heats up.

Southwesterly winds have been cranking along the ridges overnight, with 40 mph averages at times on Logan Peak.  Some sensitive wind slabs probably formed overnight on upper elevation slopes exposed to drifting.  Some of these could be pretty stiff, perhaps allowing you to get well out on them before releasing.  Overnight winds further built out many of the gigantic cornices in the region, and with both the warmth and the wind, these could be sensitive and tricky today, perhaps breaking further back than you might expect.  And, a large cornice-fall landing on a steep saturated slope below could trigger a large wet avalanche.

Yesterday we noticed several new deep and spooky glide cracks at mid and upper elevations. (photo)  It would be unlikely for you to trigger a glide avalanche, but natural glide avalanches are possible this time of year any time of day or night on particular slopes with smooth ground or rock surfaces, which become lubricated by melt-water.  I can only suggest that you stay out of debris collecting gullies and out from under steep sodden slopes and obviously dangerous avalanche paths.

Bottom Line:

Today there's a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger on steep slopes in the backcountry.  You could trigger wet  avalanches on many saturated slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and some significant natural avalanches might occur.  There's also a MODERATE danger, and freshly formed wind slab avalanches are possible on some steep upper elevation slopes, especially those facing north through east.

Mountain Weather:

 It'll get much colder and a potent winter storm will move into the region tonight.  Snow will fall down to the lower elevations on Monday, and 1 to 2 feet of accumulation is forecast for the higher elevations by early Tuesday.

General Information: 

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 is our last regularly scheduled advisory.  But as a significant storm is on our doorstep, conditions will change, and I'll try to post a mid-week update.

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.