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Logan area Avalanche Advisory

7:30, Monday March 3, 2008

Hello and good morning, this is Toby Weed of the Utah Avalanche Center with your Logan Area backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Itís Monday March 3rd, 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 Voile USA.

Current Conditions: Yesterday, north winds whipping down through the major north-south oriented canyons in Central Bear River Range raked the shallow fresh powder off exposed windward slopes and stacked it into fetch areas forming stiff drifts.  You should find good, if somewhat shallow, fresh powder conditions across the region.  I expected the cold air temperatures to keep the snow nice, but I was wrong.  By evening, observers in the Franklin Basin Area reported a nice breakable sun-crust on south and east facing slopes and wind-scoured or crusted snow on north and west facing slopes.  Using your imagination, you might be able to find good powder conditions in sheltered shady terrain.  The CSI weather station on Logan Peak reports a strengthening and steady north wind, now averaging in the upper teens and gusting in lower 20 mph range.  Itís six degrees at 9400í and 13 degrees down in town.

  Avalanche Conditions:  

 It was a fairly active day in the Central Wasatch Range yesterday, with numerous natural and triggered new snow wind slab avalanches running fast and far on smoothed-in and sun-slicked slopes.  An overnight natural cycle was followed by very successful control work and many powder avalanches running the full length of their paths, (Wasatch report).  From a distance, I noted a few small and longish running natural avalanches in the front part of the range.  I have no other reports of avalanche problems or sightings from over the weekend.

Persistent north winds diminished a bit yesterday evening, but picked up again overnight.  Yesterday, cold north winds dropped down into middle and lower elevation terrain causing extensive drifting with the several inches of fresh light density powder.  By afternoon, much of the new snow was blown into the trees, hard wind slabs developed in fetch areas, and large cornices built-out anew.  A few wind slabs probably built up in areas with existing buried weak layers, (weak snow photos).  You should watch for and avoid large cornices and obvious drifts or wind slabs on steep slopes.  Possible clues include smooth, chalky looking or stiffer feeling snow, hollow drum-like sounds, or shooting cracks.

The sun will be out in full force with a higher March angle, and air temperatures will be up to 15 degrees warmer in the mountains than yesterday.  Concave sheltered and sunny slopes or bowls will be like solar ovens, reflecting energy, producing heat, and saturating the surface snow on steep avalanche slopes.

 

   Bottom Line:  Overall thereís a MODERATE danger in the backcountry, and triggered wind slab avalanches possible on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially in exposed upper elevation terrain. Solar warming will also cause a MODERATE danger of wet avalanches on sunny slopes with saturated snow.  Use good snow assessment and safe travel techniques in the backcountry today.

  Mountain Weather: Weíll see sunny and warmer weather in the mountains today with winds shifting around from the west and increasing overnight.  A storm system moving out of the Northwest will graze Northern Utah late tonight and a secondary wave will move through the region tomorrow.  It looks like we might get the short end of the stick snow-wise, with the higher precipitation amounts going to points south.  A cool northerly flow will set up for the balance of the week.

General Announcements: 

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan is presenting an Avalanche Fundamentals, Level 1 Class (Certification), starting March 14, with field sessions on the 15th, and 22nd.  Please register in advance with the Friends via e-mail or for more information contact [email protected].

 Check out the images page for photos of some of this seasonís avalanches.

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.

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

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.