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Logan area Avalanche Advisory


7:30, Monday March 24, 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 Monday March 24th, 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 Caffe Ibis Roasting Company.  

Current Conditions:

 Warm southwest winds will heat things up in the backcountry today, and increasing clouds could trap the heat and allow it to affect the remaining nice upper elevation snow.  You’ll find a variety of softening crusts and moist snow in different stages of melt varying greatly depending on elevation and slope aspect.  A couple cold fronts from storms passing to our north will bring cooler temperatures, but you’ll have to head up to the Teton or Salt River Range if you want to find any fresh powder. 

Southwest winds picked up steam yesterday evening and they’ve been steady and fairly strong overnight, with the CSI weather station on Logan Peak reporting sustained hourly averages in the upper twenties with gusts in the mid-forty mph range.  It’s a balmy 33 degrees at the Franklin Basin Snotel, 20 degrees warmer than it was yesterday morning.  It’s 26 degrees at 9400’ on Logan Peak and 27 at 4500’ down in Logan.

  Avalanche Conditions: 

Overall, it was a quiet weekend avalanche-wise in the mountains of Northern Utah, but there were a few exceptions.  A snowmobiler triggered a rogue persistent slab in the Western Uinta Mountains on Saturday and took a nasty ride with his sled but luckily survived, (Western Uinta) and on the second field day of the Avalanche Fundamentals class also on Saturday, we found a couple nice examples of recent persistent slab avalanches in the Naomi Peak Area, (photos). These 1-2’ deep avalanches on easterly facing slopes above 9000’, triggered by cornice-fall and snowmobilers, indicate the potential for more activity on similar, isolated, very steep upper elevation slopes.  

Significant wet avalanches are possible on steep slopes today as warmth turns the fresh surface snow into slush.  Some or the huge cornices in the region could become active with gravity and heating, so you’d be wise to stay out from under ‘em.  You might find even smallish wet avalanches entraining lots of mass and traveling far.  It is difficult to tell exactly when or if wet avalanches will occur, but it’ll be a good idea today to avoid and stay out from under steep slopes with melt-saturated snow at all elevations.

Triggered wind or persistent slab avalanches are possible on steep upper elevation slopes.  Wind slab avalanches are most likely on steep northeast facing slopes or those with significant deposits of recently drifted snow. Isolated persistent slabs are possible on very steep slopes above 8000’ in elevation and facing the northern half of the compass.  Many avalanche slide paths in the area are well filled-in and smooth, so even relatively small wind slab avalanches might run far or fast.


Bottom Line: 

  There’s a MODERATE avalanche danger in the backcountry, and you could trigger avalanches on some slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  Wet avalanches will become possible at all elevations in the midday heat as the snow is warmed and becomes saturated.  The danger may be greatest on shadier slopes where soft dry snow is initially heated, but you should avoid and stay out from under all steep slopes with saturated snow.  Triggered wind or persistent slab avalanches are possible on very steep slopes at upper elevations.

Mountain Weather: Today will be the warmest day for a while in the mountains.  Storms passing to our north will bring cooler temperatures starting this afternoon.  A sharp cold front will bring some heavy snow to the area on Wednesday, but the storm could be a quick hitter.   Cooler and somewhat cloudy weather is expected for the balance of the week and another cold front is possible for the coming weekend 

General Announcements: 

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.