Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Tuesday,  FEBRUARY 19, 2002  3:30 PM



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Good afternoon, this is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, February 19, 2002, and it’s 3:30 p.m.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s several inches of new snow freshened up conditions around the Wasatch, especially in the upper Cottonwoods.  Other areas got only a trace to a couple of inches of new snow.  But with no wind, mild temperatures and a little new snow, this was a fine day to enjoy the Wasatch backcountry. 


Avalanche Conditions:

The only avalanche activity reported today was some sluffing on very steep slopes with slope cuts and also a little spontaneous sluffing, mostly in the upper Cottonwoods.  Temperatures are warming and the mountains are getting some sun so there may also be a little wet slide activity this afternoon on southerly facing slopes. 


Of more concern than these rather small sluffs is how conditions may change by tomorrow morning.  Another small storm is moving across Nevada this afternoon and will hit the Wasatch tonight.  Snow amounts may not be much different than on Monday but this one is forecasted to have much stronger winds.  Monday’s light snow is just waiting to be blown around and with the additional accumulations from tonight, it won’t take much wind to quickly develop some avalanche potential.  Be sure to check this advisory before heading out on Wednesday morning.


There remains a slight, but distinct possibility that any new avalanche activity may step down into the old snow.  The most recent example of the persistence of deep slab instability was on Sunday on the American Fork Twins, where a skier was injured by a slide that broke down to the January 6 rain crust.


Bottom Line: 

While the danger of human triggered avalanches is LOW this afternoon, it will rise tonight as a windy storm reaches the Wasatch.  On Wednesday the danger is likely to be at least MODERATE on steep upper elevation wind-drifted slopes, especially around the rim of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon and in the American Fork drainage.   At the mid and lower elevations, the danger remains generally LOW.


(Provo Area Mountains)

Mostly the same conditions as in the Salt Lake Mountains.


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Generally LOW danger.


Mountain Weather:

Another fast moving little storm is headed towards northern Utah.  We expect precipitation to start in the mountains about midnight and continue into the morning hours.  The snow level may start at almost 6,000 feet but will rapidly drop to the valley.  Storm totals of only a couple of inches are likely for much of the range but some places could get up to about 8 inches.  Most of the precipitation will arrive on a northwest flow so the Cottonwood Canyons will again be favored.  Winds will be strong from the northwest for awhile tonight and tomorrow morning, getting into the 20 to 30 mph range along the ridges.  Temperatures will remain warm until late tonight with overnight lows at 8,000 feet in the upper teens and low twenties.  The little storm will be past the Wasatch by mid-day tomorrow with skies clearing late in the day.  High pressure will then move over Utah for Thursday and Friday.   


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. 


Ethan Greene will update this advisory by 7:30 on Wednesday 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: