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Logan area Avalanche advisory

Wednesday April 18, 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 Wednesday April 18th 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

You might still find some powder at upper elevations.  6 inches to a foot fell in the Bear River Range on Monday, and cool temperatures and cloud cover preserved some of it. It's been fairly cold since  Monday's storm, with good, solid overnight refreezes.  The underlying moist snow is supportable and you can ride anywhere.  Hesitating on the throttle, I broke through the crust once at about 9000', and augured my track down into nasty slush underneath.  It's a cool 11 degrees on Logan Peak this morning.

Snow and Avalanche Conditions:

 Cold is just what we needed, and conditions stabilized substantially since the weekend.  Today, you might find a few problems with the new snow, like isolated ridge-top wind-drifts and wet point-releases when it warms up.  But, I'm very happy with mountain temperatures in the low teens for the last couple nights.  It's alright this time of year if it warms up during the day as long as it refreezes again at night.

Lack of overnight refreezes caused a somewhat dangerous situation with wet avalanches last weekend.  Numerous significant avalanches occurred in the backcountry because of the warm weather.  On Sunday, a huge natural wet slab rumbled over 2500' down the gully in the North Fork of Shumway Canyon in the Wellsville Range.  The toe is very visible from across Cache Valley; a giant pile of rubble piled up in the canyon where the surrounding terrain is mostly melted out.

We're in for another warm-up in the next few days, and it may not refreeze at night again starting tomorrow night.  By this weekend, I'll probably be worried again by warm temperatures and rapidly melting snow.  Remember, its time to leave a steep slope when you start sinking deeply into melt-softened snow.  Pin-wheels or roller balls are bad signs, as are natural avalanches on similar slopes to the one you're on.  Your best bet in springtime is to wait for a good overnight refreeze, and then get an early morning start.  That way, when it warms up around midday, you're satisfied and ready to head down.

Bottom Line:

With a few exceptions, involving new snow avalanche problems on steep slopes at upper elevations, avalanches are unlikely on most slopes in the backcountry today.  As temperatures rise toward the end of the week, and especially if it doesn't freeze at night, the danger of wet avalanches will increase.

Mountain Weather:

 With high pressure aloft, we're looking at a significant warming trend in the next few days, with Saturday's forecast temperatures pushing 50 degrees at 9000'. It should drop down to around 20 degrees tonight, but this could be the last solid refreeze for a little while. Overnight temperatures are forecast to stay up around 40 degrees this weekend.  A trough of low pressure will bring storminess back into the region towards the end of the weekend.

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 us 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'll update this advisory for the weekend.

  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.