Wasatch Cache National Forest

In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Salt Lake County, and Utah State Parks


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Avalanche advisory

FRIday, FEBRUARY 15, 2002  4:00 PM



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Good afternoon, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, February 15, 2002, and it’s 3:00 p.m.


Current Conditions:

I hope you enjoyed the beautiful, sunny day in the mountains today because we will probably have more cloudy or snowy conditions for the next several days.  As far as the snow surface conditions, most of the Olympic visitors must be wondering what’s up with our license plates.  Right now, at least in the backcountry, we have the Greatest old, tired, abused, wind-and-sun-damaged Snow on Earth.  Yes, you can still find some soft, settled, recrystallized snow on the surface that could pass for real powder.  You can find it on lower to mid elevation, north facing, wind sheltered areas—places where most people wouldn’t think to go.   The groomed runs at the mostly-empty, non-venue resorts are a good bet and so is snowmobiling.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday morning, quite strong west and northwest wind formed sensitive, hard and soft slabs and cornices along the mid and upper elevation terrain.  The fresh drifts are mostly shallow about 3-6 inches deep, with a few up to about a foot deep along the highest ridges.  The shallow drifts were easy to trigger on steep slopes yesterday but they should stabilize out quickly today.  But still, be alert for cracking in the new snow, an indication that they are still cranky.    


We feel obligated to mention that there could still be a slight chance of triggering a deeper hard slab avalanche.  Although this problem is very isolated to only a very few, mostly steep, slopes, the consequences of triggering one could be quite serious.


Probably a more important concern right now is the future.  All the clear skies this past couple weeks has created no lack of very weak snow both on the surface and in deeper layers in the snowpack.  Also, the sun and wind has similarly created no lack of slick sun and wind crusts in exposed areas.  In other words, when we get a significant load of new snow on top we could go from low danger to high danger in a hurry.  As our weather pattern changes for next week, we will need to keep a close eye on this.


Bottom Line:         

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  On other slopes, the danger is isolated or LOW.


(Provo Area Mountains)

Mostly the same general conditions as in the SLC mountains.


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Mostly the same general conditions as in the SLC mountains.


Mountain Weather:

We should have clear skies again tonight but some high and mid elevation clouds on Saturday.  Sunday, we have a storm diving south of us, which will continue to give us clouds but not much snow.  More interesting weather looks like it will arrive on Monday and Tuesday with a good chance of snow in the mountains.  It’s too early to talk about amounts, but stay tuned as it approaches.  In the mean time, ridgetop temperatures will be around 25 degrees with ridgetop winds 15 mph from the southwest.  8,000’ temperatures should be in the low 20’s tonight and the upper 30’s on Saturday.


General  Information:

During the Olympics, we will issue both morning and afternoon advisories.  We’ll use the 364 -1591 line for more detailed or additional avalanche information.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, you can leave a message at (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140.  Or you can e-mail an observation to [email protected] .org, or you can fax an observation to 801-524-6301.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides will not be flying during the Olympics. 


We have a new icon-based, short advisory posted each day at www.avalanche.org.  We would appreciate any feedback on this new product.


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. 


The ever-popular Evelyn Lees will update this advisory Saturday morning.

 Thanks for calling!


For more detailed weather information go to our Mountain Weather Advisory

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: