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

Early Season Avalanche Statement

 November 14, 2006

Hello, this is Toby Weed of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with a special early season avalanche statement.  It's Tuesday November 14th, and it's 7:30 in the evening.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with the help of the Cache Valley community.

Current Conditions:

The last several days have been quite productive, and all of a sudden there's 28 inches of snow containing 5.2 inches of water at the Tony Grove Snotel site.  High winds built substantial drifts and packed dense snow into leeward upper elevation slopes. Today we generally floated near the snow surface, but occasionally found ourselves wallowing about in around a foot of little Styrofoam-like balls called graupel

Most slopes that held snow last week have a decent melt-freeze basal layer, but others still feel baseless.  We found it easy to hit shallowly buried rocks or other obstacles. You still have to keep you speed down and be light on your feet. Most sledders are sticking to snow covered upper elevation roads.  The fresh snow is still quite soft, and you might easily dig yourself down to dirt if you get off road.

Avalanche Conditions: 

 Thanks to the quick thinking and practiced rescue technique of his party today, a backcountry skier survived  an avalanche burial in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City.  For more details on this go to the Utah Avalanche Center Web site.  This near tragedy goes to show that we definitely need to get our partners to practice rescue techniques with beacons, probes, and shovels.  We also need to make sure our batteries are fresh.

We triggered one small slab today on a steep wind drifted slope near Tony Grove Lake, but generally found stable conditions.  So far I've seen little evidence of the sugary depth hoar that plagues some of the upper elevation slopes in the Central Wasatch. This is probably because the mountains of Bear River Range boast lower elevations than those to our south, and the September/October snow here either melted or solidified under warmer conditions.  Where as, the colder conditions at the top of the Wasatch caused the development of sugary or faceted snow at the base of the snowpack and a persistent deep slab instability on many shady slopes.  Despite the fact that I haven't seen this problem around here, it is certainly possible that it exists on some slopes in the region.  A more widespread problem involves more short-lived weak layers at the interfaces between Thursday's and Saturday's snow and between Saturday's and Monday's.  My tests today produced shears on both layers, but the small slab we triggered involved only the most recent wind deposited snow.  I expect the instabilities to diminish rapidly in the next couple days, but triggered wind slab avalanches are still quite possible on steep drifted slopes.

Bottom Line:

There's a MODERATE avalanche danger on steep slopes at upper elevations in the Logan Area.  You might trigger wind slab avalanches above around 8000' on drifted slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  These will most likely be lurking on exposed north through southeast facing slopes.

Mountain Weather:

We'll get a bit of a break on Wednesday before the next system moves in Wednesday night.  Thursday will bring us a bit more snow and wind, with only a couple inches of accumulation forecast.  Generally unstable weather conditions should persist at least into the weekend, but nothing real big is in sight.

General Information:

Click here for information on this season's upcoming fundraiser. 

I'm back in the office now, and I'll start producing regular advisories as soon as there's enough snow in the backcountry. Logan Area advisories will be accessible through the new statewide toll-free avalanche info line, call 1-888-999-4019

I will give a free Avalanche Talk, open to all, at the Logan Ranger District offices at 1500 E Hwy 89 in Logan on Tuesday, November 21 at 6:30.  I'm in the process of planning free talks and avalanche classes, so if you or your group would like to schedule me in, you should make arrangements soon.

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

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.