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

Thursday March 22, 2007

Hello, this is Toby Weed of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan Area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Itís Thursday March 22nd and itís 9:30 in the evening.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from The Trailhead in Downtown Logan.

Current Conditions:

   Cooler daytime temperatures and below freezing nights are making for nice spring snow conditions in the region.    Weíve been finding fine and smooth snow conditions on most slopes, with the added bonus of numerous avalanche paths snaking into lower elevations and providing good access to upper elevations in places.  Many slopes where large natural avalanches occurred late in February or early in March are now smooth, and you can find good riding conditions in smoothed-in runout zones and gullies.  Mountain temperatures should drop into the upper twenties overnight and will climb into the lower forties under partly cloudy skies on Friday.

Avalanche Conditions:

Cooler weather in the past couple days has helped to keep wet avalanche activity in check. Iím much more comfortable with the overall snow stability situation in the backcountry now that the saturated snow is re-freezing at night.  I easily triggered small soft slab and new snow wet avalanches on steep slopes yesterday, and I noticed some small natural wet avalanches on steep upper elevation slopes today. No large wet avalanches were reported or observed in the region since last weekend.

Despite the cooler weather, our biggest concern continues to be potential wet avalanches.  Your best strategy for minimizing your risk these days includes both an early morning start and an early afternoon retreat.  If you limit your backcountry time to morning hours and stay off of saturated slopes that donít support your weight, youíll avoid exposure to most of the existing avalanche dangers.  Dangerously large wet slab avalanches are still possible on numerous steep slopes in the region, and they are most probable after slopes are softened by daytime heat.  All but the most northerly facing slopes are plagued by now-moistened depth hoar and an overlying slab, and these are most sensitive to triggering when soft in midday. In spite of the cooling, a few spontaneous glide avalanches, where the entire snowpack slowly slides along the ground until it releases, are also possible in some steep sunny areas with smooth ground or rock slab underlying surfaces. Obviously, you should stay out from under any obvious glide cracks, which have opened up on some sunny slopes in the past couple days.

Bottom Line:

Thereís a MODERATE danger in the backcountry.  Triggered wet avalanches are possible on steep slopes with saturated snow, especially on sun exposed slopes after midday. Get an early start so you can be heading home early before the snow is softened by the heat of the day.   Use good snow assessment and safe travel techniques to minimize risks.

 Mountain Weather:

Fair conditions will rule the weather pattern through much of the upcoming weekend.  Mountain temperatures should drop below freezing in most locations overnight, and will be approaching 40 degrees under partly cloudy skies on Friday. A high pressure system will dominate the pattern over the weekend, but an increasingly strong southwest flow aloft will set up over the region on Monday. It looks like a major change in the pattern beginning on Tuesday when a cold trough moves in heralding a return to winter complete with potentially significant snowfall and well below average temperatures. 

General Information:

Check out photos of last week's avalanches in the Logan Area on our images page.

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

Please e-mail me at [email protected] or leave me a message at 755-3638 if you see or trigger avalanches in the backcountry.  The information you provide may save lives...

 This advisory will expire on Friday night. I will update it again on Saturday morning.

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.