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Logan area Avalanche Advisory

7:30, Wednesday February 6, 2008

Hello and good morning, this is Toby Weed of the Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan Area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  It’s Wednesday February 6th, at 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 EK USA.

Current Conditions:

A southwest wind picked up steam early this morning and once again, snow is falling in the mountains around Logan.  Given the fine powder conditions already in the region, we don’t really need any more snow on top.  But alas, here it comes.  We’ll probably only get around 6 inches during the day today, but more is on the way for tonight and more again tomorrow.  The big story now is the incessant west wind, which will certainly find lots of soft snow to drift about.  The CSI Logan Peak weather station reports hourly average wind speeds in the mid thirties this morning with 50 mph gusts, and the forecast calls for increasing west winds remaining fairly strong throughout the day.  I’m currently reading 4 degrees at 9400’ and 19 down in Mendon.

  Avalanche Conditions:

  I haven’t heard of any new avalanches in the region since the active past weekend.  A fairly widespread natural cycle occurred on Sunday, and I went up to Maple Bench above Mendon to check it out yesterday.  A few of the large east facing paths had avalanched during the storm, some expanding the meadows in the run-outs,  taking out a good number of trees in the process. (Old Logway Canyon photos)

Strong west winds this morning are drifting tons of snow into avalanche starting zones and will continue to build stiff wind slabs in exposed terrain throughout the day.  These slabs may be quite sensitive when soft, but could be stubborn when stiff, allowing you to get out on them before releasing.  The most substantial wind deposits will be found today at upper elevations, under large growing cornices, and near ridge lines.  But significant drifting is also likely on exposed slopes at lower elevations where weaker snow exists. Also, vertical cross-loading will lead to slab formation near sub-ridges, in gullies, and under cliff bands.  Watch for and avoid chalky looking or hollow sounding drifts or wind slabs on steep slopes and be aware that a few inches of fresh powder may be hiding these traps.

Last week’s snow and drifting overloaded some steep slopes with existing persistent weak layers, and there is potential for some avalanches to step down to one of several lingering weaknesses formed previously on the snow surface. In areas with a shallow overall snowpack, like wind scoured slopes and those at lower elevations, some avalanches could step all the way down to sugary depth hoar near the ground.

   Bottom Line:

There’s a CONSIDERABLE danger on steep wind drifted slopes in the backcountry today, and triggered avalanches are likely on a variety of exposed slopes and possible at all elevations.  You’ll find a MODERATE danger, with triggered avalanches still possible in more sheltered terrain.  Avalanche training and experience are essential for safe backcountry travel, and you should use good snow assessment and safe travel techniques to minimize your risks.

    Mountain Weather:

Expect to be tag-teamed by two quick-hitting windy storms today and tomorrow.  The National Weather Service issued Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory through this afternoon for the mountains of Northern Utah and a Winter Storm Warning for the mountains in southeast Idaho. Expect several additional inches of accumulation and strong west winds today.  Some clearing is likely this afternoon, but warm advection clouds will quickly move in ahead of the next slightly stronger wave of storminess scheduled for tomorrow.  It looks like we’ll get a much needed break in the storms and significant warming for the weekend, as a high pressure ridge builds into the region beginning on Friday.  

General Announcements:  This advisory will expire in 24 hours from the posting time.

Go to the Avalanche Encyclopedia if you have any questions about terms I use in the advisory.

I'm very interested to know what you're seeing out there.  Please e-mail observations to me at [email protected] or leave me a message at 755-3638, especially if you see or trigger an avalanche in the backcountry. We keep all observations confidential.

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.