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Utah Avalanche Center in Logan

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 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, February 4, 2007:

  Hello and good morning, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan Area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Itís Sunday February 4th, and itís 7:30 am.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from Beaver Mountain.

Current Conditions:

A northwest wind is still cranking along at upper elevations, but it should gradually diminish during a mostly cloudy day as mountain temperatures begin to climb.  Backcountry snow conditions are in a sorry state.  In many popular riding areas exposed to the incessant north wind, a month's worth of old tracks are extolled above the wind-eroded snow surface in terrain dictated patterns, like giant brail spider-webs.  On the other hand, snow conditions have been so funky of late that many normally tracked slopes have had time to revert back to at least a pretty smooth look. 

Snow conditions are incredibly variable across the region, with very weak sugary snow throughout the pack in mid and lower elevations and slick bomb-proof crusts on many exposed upper elevation slopes.  You can easily get mired down and trail breaking is tedious in unconsolidated sugary snow down low, while you might be wise to worry about losing traction or an edge and taking an uncontrolled slide down a slippery upper elevation slope.  We've been finding the best snow conditions on low angled slopes.

Avalanche Conditions:

 With a bit more snow on Thursday and stronger winds than we experienced, yesterday was an active day in the Wasatch Range.  In addition to the well publicized terrain-related accident on the south face of the Pfeifferhorn, several other human triggered avalanches were reported, including a few which were triggered remotely or from a distance.  (Go to the Utah Avalanche Center for more details).   In the Logan Area Backcountry, strong northwest winds built sensitive drifts with the skimpy new snow along high ridgelines and in other exposed  terrain.  Yesterday we easily triggered small wind slabs in wind affected east facing terrain at around 7000 ft in elevation.  The slabs had formed on very weak snow and so were quite sensitive to our presence. On Friday I easily triggered a handful of small wind slabs but avoided a potentially dangerous magic-carpet-ride while traversing a big exposed upper elevation slope facing southwest.  Since windy conditions continued overnight, I'd expect to find thicker and stiffer wind slabs in exposed areas today.  The chalky-looking drifts should be fairly easy to spot and avoid, and you should because harder slabs tend to allow a person to get out on them before releasing.

Youíre also still likely to trigger significant dry loose avalanches or sluffs on steep mid and  lower elevation slopes.  The shallow snow in these areas has completely rotted out, and on a steep slope it doesnít take much to get all the unconsolidated sugary gains to move downhill, like salt leaking out of a broken bag.  You need to be careful not to be swept into a tree or off a cliff.

Bottom Line:

There is a MODERATE danger and triggered wind slab avalanches are possible on drifted slopes steeper than about 35 degrees in the backcountry.  These are most prevalent on upper elevation east, south and southwest facing slopes, but are also found in exposed mid-elevation terrain. You are also likely to trigger significant sluffs or loose dry avalanches on steep mid and lower elevation slopes with existing sugary and unconsolidated snow.    You should continue to use normal caution and practice safe travel protocols.

Weather:

It will be mostly cloudy and warmer today in the mountains, with a chance for a few snowflakes.  Mountain temperatures will continue to rise and smog will build up in the valleys again for the first part of the week.  It still looks like a moist westerly pattern will set up later in the week, bringing some threat of snow to the region beginning around Thursday.

General Information:

 This advisory will expire on Monday morning.  I will update it again on Tuesday night.

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.

Thursd