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 April 01, 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.  It’s Sunday April 1st and it’s 7:30 in the morning.  This advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from Import Auto at 502 West 1400 North.

This is not a prank: The Franklin Basin Road is closed to wheeled vehicles due to muddy season conditions, and you must ride snowmobiles over snow and not on mud or sagebrush.  Motorized access to the backcountry is severely limited if not impossible from this and other melted-out trailheads.  You can park up on the paved, Tony Grove Road and access upper elevation snow, but expect congestion….

Current Conditions:

Big dump and you’ll need goggles and a snorkel for the first time all season!…Sorry, but you would be the April Fool if you thought you’d find anything resembling stellar snow conditions on most slopes in the backcountry.  Yesterday’s sunshine, mild temperatures, and sustained west winds did a number on the previously pleasant snow conditions. Realistically, your best bet for finding shallow powder stashes will be on north facing and sheltered slopes at upper elevations.  After yesterday’s warm temperatures, most slopes will sport breakable crusts this morning and then become softened with daytime warming.  Clouds will build today, and it will be mild and breezy in the mountains.  Warm air will ride in on pre-frontal southwesterly winds, which will be in the 20-30 mph range on the ridges. Snow showers are likely in the afternoon, but little accumulation is expected.

Avalanche Conditions:

 I noticed a couple small fresh snowmobiler triggered wind-slabs yesterday near Naomi Peak.  These were on an obviously drifted, east facing slope near an exposed ridge-line above 9500’. (Christmas Tree)  I also noticed numerous natural loose wet point-release avalanches on sun-exposed slopes at all elevations, and some ran fairly long distances down sustained slopes.

 Sustained westerly winds in the last 36 hours raked the snow from exposed slopes and drifted it into fetch areas.  The gradual surface drifting and slab build-up might fool some, but most of us realize that there are now stubborn drifts and recently formed hard slabs to contend with.  These can make for dangerous April Fools tricks, allowing you to get out on them before releasing. In addition to the expected lee slope loading zones near ridge lines, you might find tricky stiff drifts and wind slabs today in and around terrain features like rock outcrops, sub-ridges, and gullies. You should avoid being fooled by any obvious drifts on steep slopes, and as always be cautious if you encounter stiff, wind-blown snow.  

 Despite increasing cloud cover, mountain temperatures are forecast to be warm today in advance of a weak storm.  Loose wet avalanches will become more likely on all steep slopes as the snow heats up during the day.  These will entrain all of last week’s fresh snow and could reach a significant size, especially on big slopes.    Although you can normally escape wet point-release avalanches that you trigger, they can be quite dangerous to anyone in the line of fire.  Best to avoid problems and leave when the new snow on the slope you’re on gets sloppy or saturated.


Bottom Line:

This morning there’s a MODERATE danger in the backcountry, and you still could trigger stiff wind slab avalanches on drifted slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. You are most likely to encounter these in exposed terrain at upper elevations, on slopes near ridge-lines facing northeast, east, and southeast, and near terrain features like gullies, sub-ridges and rock outcrops.  With warming temperatures likely today, the danger of wet avalanches will again rise to MODERATE on any slope with saturated surface snow.  By afternoon, you might trigger loose wet avalanches entraining significant quantities of heavy snow, especially on steep sustained slopes.

Mountain Weather:

Expect increasing clouds, mild temperatures, and breezy conditions in the backcountry today.  Snow showers are possible this afternoon, with an inch or so of accumulation possible.  The mountains could pick up 4 to 6 inches overnight, and snowfall should continue on Monday morning.  It should clear up on Tuesday before the next spring storm arrives on around Tuesday night.

 General Information:

Check out photos of 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 will be the last regularly scheduled advisory for the season, and it will expire on Monday morning.  I will update this advisory on weekends and as conditions warrant.

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.