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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.

               

                        The Utah Avalanche Center Home page is: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/

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Logan area Avalanche advisory

Special Update

Monday February 19, 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 Monday  February 19th, and itís 7:20 in the morning.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from Simmons Flexi-ski of Providence.

Current Conditions:

It's been a tragic holiday weekend in Utah and across the Intermountain West, and the death toll is rising.  Sadly yesterday, an avalanche killed a young out-of-area skier from Massachusetts in the backcountry near Snowbasin.  Now 6 have perished while enjoying backcountry pursuits over the Holiday Weekend in Utah, Idaho and Montana.  We wish to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed.  These deaths hit pretty close to home, and it's important to note that 5 of the victims were riding snowmobiles and 3 were from Utah.

Overnight, the Tony Grove Snotel picked up about a foot of new snow overnight containing 9/10s of an inch of water.  Temperatures plummeted into the single digits and winds shifted around from the north and diminished at the Campbell Scientific weather station on Logan Peak.   Powder riding and turning conditions are certainly improving in the backcountry, but its far too dangerous for me to succumb to the tempting draw of steep and deep slopes.  Hardly seems worth the risk....  I'm still avoiding the more dangerous steep lines and sticking exclusively to safer low angled terrain.  Yesterday you could ride almost anywhere, but bogging down and spinning your track into unconsolidated sugary snow was a problem for some on steep shady slopes.  There are now 71 inches of total snow on the ground at the Tony Grove Snotel site, which is 70% of average for the date.

Avalanche Conditions:

In the past few days we've received numerous other reports of unintentionally triggered avalanches from across Utah and locally, including a few involving very experienced riders and skiers, and some went for rather serious rides.  In the Logan Area, with Thursday night's heavy snowfall, significant slabs built up on existing sugary weak layers.  I examined evidence of widespread natural and triggered slab avalanches  from Thursday night and Friday in the Tony Grove Area.  These were all above around 8000' in elevation and on north through southeast facing slopes, but I suspect that other slopes may become active as well.   Dangerous avalanche conditions exist on many slopes across the regional backcountry.  Many slopes that did not naturally avalanche could be now sitting in a volatile and balanced state.  Even lacking much accompanying wind, the foot of new snow from overnight just might be enough to push some of these over the edge.  The snowfall came down into mid an lower elevations this time, so slopes that have not been active before now could be today.  The overall danger increased overnight with the snowfall, especially on mid-elevation slopes with very weak underlying sugary snow.  Avalanches are still probable today on steep slopes with human triggers.

Bottom Line:

 There's a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger in the backcountry, and you could trigger dangerous slab avalanches on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees.  Triggered new snow and more dangerous hard slab avalanches running on persistent weak layers are likely in many areas.  Avalanche training and experience are essential for safe backcountry travel today, but these tools won't save you from yourself.  Resist the redoubtable pull of powder temptation, avoid and stay out from under all steep slopes and obvious avalanche paths.

Mountain Weather:

   The storm will exit Northern Utah this morning, with only residual showers and another inch or so possible today.  It will be mild with some cloudiness in the mountains for the next couple days.  A potent looking storm could bring significant snowfall later in the week, beginning around Thursday.

 General Information:

Go to the Avalanche Encyclopedia if you have any questions about terms I use in the advisory.  Check out the recently-released Media Page, which shows the current and forecast danger for our coverage areas across the state.

The Utah Avalanche Center compiled a good collection of photos from this week's avalanche cycle in the Wasatch Range.  Click here to visit this season's photos.  Check out photos of recent avalanches in the Logan Area on our images page.

Please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or leave me a message at 755-3638 if you see evidence of recent avalanche activity or avalanches in the backcountry.  The information you provide may save lives...

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

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.