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Logan area Avalanche Advisory


7:30, Thursday March 13, 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 Thursday March 13th, at 7:30 in the morning.  Today’s advisory is brought to you in part by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan with help from EK USA.

Current Conditions:  The National Weather Service has issued a Snow Advisory for the regional mountains from 10:00 this morning through 12:00 PM on Friday.  You’ll need to remember your goggles today since snow will fly and will likely be heavy at times.  I expect around 6 inches to accumulate on mountain slopes today, with another 6+ possible overnight tonight.  Winds, today from the west southwest and tonight switching around from the northwest, are forecast to be fairly strong, and considerable blowing and drifting of the new snow is likely to occur. Yesterday we were still able to find some fairly nice fast re-crystallized powder-like snow on shady mid and upper elevation slopes.  Sunnier areas sport a variety of crusts…Currently at the Campbell Scientific weather station at 9400’ on Logan Peak there’s a 20-30 mph west-southwest wind and its 20 degrees.

  Avalanche Conditions:  It has been quiet avalanche-wise in the Northern Utah backcountry, with no significant avalanches reported or observed in the past few days.  But with a somewhat windy storm on our doorstep and a few potential weak layers on the current snow surface, this is all probably going to change and just in time for the weekend.  There will likely be quite a difference between heavily tracked slopes and those that are untracked, with the significantly smoother untracked slopes much more likely to produce avalanches.  The rougher tracked-up slopes will tend to be more stable, but you might be fooled into a false belief in overall stability after testing a few of these compacted areas.  Don’t think that I’m crying wolf if the terrain you’re in doesn’t seem as dangerous as I claim.  Realize that I must make stability forecasts for untracked terrain in the backcountry.   In these areas I’ve noticed surface snow that might become problematic once buried by today’s snowfall including weak frost crystals or surface hoar in places, widespread areas in the shade with sugary near surface facets, slick or moist sun-crusts on sunny slopes, and funky crust/facet combos on slopes exposed to partial sun.

As fresh snow starts to pile up on steep slopes this afternoon, avalanches will become increasingly possible.  In particular you’ll need to watch for and avoid steep slopes where significant drifted snow accumulates.  Avalanches will be most probable in exposed upper elevation terrain and on slopes facing the eastern half of the compass.

Bottom Line:  The danger in the backcountry will increase to MODERATE later today with heavy snowfall and strong westerly winds in the forecast.  Triggered avalanches will become possible first on steep slopes in exposed upper elevation terrain and on slopes facing the eastern half of the compass.   Continued snowfall and winds may well cause the danger to increase further overnight and some natural new snow or wind slab avalanches may occur before tomorrow morning….

Mountain Weather: Fast moving short waves imbedded in a moist zonal flow will bring accumulating snow to the regional mountains today and tonight. A foot or more is possible in favored areas before tomorrow morning.  West-southwest winds today will shift around from the northwest overnight and remain somewhat strong.  A bit more snowfall is likely tomorrow before the action moves down south for late in the weekend.  Next week looks rather unsettled and cloudy, but temperatures should gradually begin to warm.

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.