Utah Avalanche Center in Logan


 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 January 23, 2007:

Hello, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan Area avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  It's Tuesday January 23rd, and it's 8:30 in the evening.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan, with help from Voile USA.

Current Conditions:

The water situation is starting to look pretty dismal this winter, and local Snotel sites are sadly showing way below average snow cover across the region.  I am reminded of slow-motion skiing in Colorado, famous for the rottenest snow on earth.  In many areas the snow is shallow, very weak, and getting weaker.  There are many slopes where you sink to the ground through large sugary crystals called depth hoar when you weight a turn or step off your sled.  At least you'll find fine weather if you can escape to upper elevations, with mostly sunny skies and mountaintop temperatures forecast to climb into the upper thirties.

Avalanche Conditions:

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but avalanches remain unlikely on most slopes in the region.  There's plenty of very weak snow, with well-developed depth hoar abundant on slopes with shallow snow cover and frost or surface hoar and small sugary grains of faceted snow on and near the snow surface in most areas.  Lacking a slab layer to cause avalanches, the weak snow isn't much of a problem now.  We started a couple dry point-release avalanches or sluffs today on very steep slopes at mid-elevations, and a couple of these gouged out the weak old snow down to the ground.  Even though they are starting to involve more snow, these avalanches are fairly controllable as long as you don't get hit from above, dragged over a cliff, or driven into a tree.  Since the recent small weekend storm we've seen only  moderate north winds on the highest peaks, but some small wind slabs developed in exposed terrain, mainly near ridge tops.  Some of these formed on top of very weak surface snow and could still be sensitive to your weight on very steep slopes.  And finally, with mountain temperatures rising well above freezing we must suspect the possibility of wet point release avalanches on slopes warmed by prolonged exposure to direct sun.  If the snow on a solar-oven-like slope starts to get sloppy or you start to notice roller balls or snails naturally rolling downhill, it's time to turn tail and head to a more shady slope.

Bottom Line:

On the majority of slopes in the backcountry there's still a LOW danger and avalanches are generally unlikely on steep slopes in the region.  However, there is a MODERATE danger and you could trigger small wind slab or increasingly significant dry loose point release avalanches on some very steep slopes in the backcountry.  You're most likely to find shallow wind slabs near upper elevation ridge-tops on slopes facing northeast through south and the dry point-release avalanches on shallow, shady slopes at mid-elevations and in areas with a shallow overall snow cover.  Solar warming might cause a MODERATE danger of wet point-release avalanches on steep, sheltered and sunny slopes in the heat of mid-day.

Mountain Weather:

We are in for at least a couple more high pressure days, with haze and smog building in the valley and fine sunny and mild weather in the mountains.  A small storm may affect the region over the coming weekend, but with the models still disagreeing on the storm path and timing, I wouldn't get my hopes up for anything major. 

General Announcements: 

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center-Logan will present a Level 1 Avalanche Class which is scheduled to begin on Friday January 26th at 5:30.  It's not too late to sign up.  Please e-mail [email protected] or call 435-753-0372 if you're interested.

For cool pictures of some of 2006's avalanche activity, including last week's avalanches, visit our Images Page.

These advisories are updated on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and weekend mornings by about 7:30.    This advisory will expire on Wednesday night. I will update it again on Thursday night.  Logan Area advisories are accessible through the new statewide toll-free avalanche information line at, 1-888-999-4019.

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.  I'm a little starved for information from you these days.  Your observations are necessary, and the information you provide may save lives. 

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.