Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Monday,  FEBRUARY 25, 2002  7:30 AM

 

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Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, February 25, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.

 

Current Conditions:

I’ve been aching to say if for a while, but it appears Old Man Winter is back, and boy is he angry.   Must be something to do with the Olympics leaving town.  The winds are the big story over night and this morning, with most ridgetop weather stations showing hourly averages in the 30’s and 40’s out of the west.  One of the most exposed sites had hourly averages in the 50’s for a few hours this morning, with gusts near 90.  Overnight snowfall amounts are in the 2-4” range depending on location, and it was still lightly snowing as of 6 this morning. Storm snow totals since yesterday morning are about 8” in the upper Cottonwoods, and about 5-6” in the Park City, Ogden, and Logan area mountains.  Temperatures have plummeted to the single digits at 9000’ and below zero at 11,000’.

 

Snow surface conditions will consist of wind scoured areas to stout wind drifted areas to decent soft powder where sheltered.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday’s new snow and winds created widespread shallow sensitive wind drifts, that responded easily to slope cuts.  Some natural activity from wind loading was reported as well in the upper Wolverine/Tuscarora area.  Most were about 6” deep running in the new snow, with a few slope cuts in drifts releasing about a foot deep.  It’s likely that with the few more inches overnight and continued strong winds, some natural activity has continued to take place early this morning, with drifts still building.  While today’s wind drifts may be more stubborn to trigger, they could break deeper and wider, resulting in more dangerous avalanches.  Strong winds will also result in unusual loading patterns.  More sensitive winddrifts may be farther off the ridgelines than expected.  Shooting cracks and audible “whumphs” are immediate signs of instability.

 

An avalanche accident occurred in the Western Uintas in the upper Currant Creek drainage east of Heber on Saturday, where a snowmachiner triggered the slide that buried him.  He’s still in critical condition.  More details can be found on the 364-1591 line.

 

There remains an isolated deep slab problem, where a person could trigger a slide today that would step down into the more deeply buried faceted snow.  This would be most likely in a thinner snowpack area, including slopes that have slid one or more times this year, upper elevation wind scoured areas, or steep rocky areas.

 

Bottom Line: 

The danger of human triggered avalanches is MODERATE bordering on CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with recent or old wind drifts.  Human triggered avalanches will be possible.  The danger is also MODERATE on all slopes where slabs are underlain by weak, faceted snow. 

                                                                                                                      

(Provo Area Mountains and Western Uinta Mountains)

 

These areas have had a thin snowpack most of the winter, and the sugary weak snow is more widespread.  The danger of human triggered avalanches is more widespread in the Provo and Western Uinta Mountains, especially where wind loaded. 

 

(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Area Mountains

 

Mountain Weather:

Light showers will taper off by early morning, giving way to partly cloudy skies. Winds will remain strong out of the west northwest, with ridgetop averages over 30mph.  By afternoon, the winds should back off somewhat, but still be enough to push some snow around.  8000’ highs will be in the high teens, with 10,000’ temperatures in the single digits.  A cool northwesterly flow will persist over northern Utah with a storm slated for Thursday.

 

General 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.

 

If the winds cooperate, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the American Fork drainage today.

 

For more detailed mountain weather and avalanche information, your can call 801-364-1591, which we’ll try to have updated by around noon each day.

 

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. 

 

I will update this advisory by 7:30 tomorrow 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:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm