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Logan area Avalanche Advisory

7:30, Wednesday March 5, 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 March 5th, 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 Import Auto.

Current Conditions:   The Central Bear River Range got the lion’s share out of yesterday’s quick hitting snowstorm, and you can find nice shallow powder or dust-on-crust in the backcountry.  While most other stations in the state only got an inch or less, the Tony Grove Snotel reports picking up 7/10ths of an inch of water in several inches of snow, and the Franklin Basin site shows less than half that amount of water in around 7 inches of accumulation.  Less snow fell in most other parts of the forecast zone.  Sustained and strong west and north winds through the weekend and the early part of this week raked snow from exposed slopes and built rock solid drifts on lee slopes and in fetch areas.  North winds diminished after the snowfall yesterday afternoon and overnight and are now averaging less than 10 mph on the CSI Logan Peak wind sensor.  I’m reading 7 degrees up at Beaver Mountain, 6˚ on Logan Peak, and 9˚ down here in Logan.

  Avalanche Conditions:  

 A group of skiers reported intentionally triggering a small wind slab in a gully-type terrain feature at mid-elevations yesterday in Blind Hollow.  But most people have been wisely avoiding obviously drifted slopes in the region, and I haven’t heard of any other recent avalanches.  

There are many places in the region where you might trigger shallow soft wind slabs consisting of drifted new snow from yesterday, especially at upper elevations and on steep slopes with significant deposits of drifted new snow.  Strong north and west winds certainly have been the major weather factor since the weekend, and a few hard wind slabs probably built up on isolated steep slopes with existing buried weak layers, (weak snow photos).   Yesterday’s new snow might now be obscuring many of these potential hard slab traps, but possible clues include smooth, chalky looking or stiffer feeling snow, hollow drum-like sounds, or shooting cracks. 

Today or tomorrow when the sun comes out from behind the clouds, solar warming will quickly saturate the fresh surface snow on sunny slopes causing a danger of wet point-release type avalanches.  

Bottom Line:  There’s a LOW danger and avalanches are generally unlikely this morning on most lower and mid-elevation slopes and in sheltered terrain in the backcountry.  A MODERATE danger exists and triggered wind slab avalanches are possible in exposed upper elevation terrain on steep slopes with significant deposits of fresh or previously wind drifted snow.  Solar warming could cause a MODERATE danger of wet avalanches on sheltered sunny slopes with saturated snow.  Use good snow assessment and safe travel techniques to minimize your risks in the backcountry today.

 Mountain Weather: We’ll see lingering clouds, unseasonably cool temperatures, and a few snow showers today, and then gradually warming conditions as a high pressure builds in for the balance of the work week.  A storm to the north may clip us over the weekend, but the next real threat for significant storminess holds off until early next 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 season’s 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.