Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

SuNday, MARCH 3, 2002 7:30 AM



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Good morning, this is Ethan Greene with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory. Today is Sunday, March 3, 2002, and its 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Last night was another cold one, with low temperatures near -10 at 8,000 and -5 at 10,000. Along the highest ridges northwest winds continue to blow in the 25 mph range, but lower in the valleys the winds are much lighter. Despite the cold temperatures some southerly aspects have thin crusts on them. There has been a fair amount of wind damage in upper elevation areas, but the snow is still soft on shady slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Cold temperatures are keeping the surface snow soft and loose. As a result many loose snow or sluff avalanches were reported yesterday. These avalanches were occurring on all aspects, but were confined to slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. Also strong winds, especially along the higher ridgelines, have built fresh wind slabs. These wind drifts are generally less than a foot deep, but are sensitive to the weight of a winter traveler. Remember even shallow slabs or loose snow avalanches can be deadly if they push you off of a cliff or into a gully.


In addition to the loose snow activity, there was a pair of slab avalanches reported in upper Mineral Fork yesterday. After performing a slope cut, a skier made several turns before releasing a soft slab avalanche about 1 deep and 40 wide. Upon reaching a safe spot he noticed that the first avalanche had sympathetically triggered a second slide about 1 deep and 100 wide. These avalanches occurred on a 35 degree, north facing slope. Although these avalanches took out snow from before our last storm, it appears that they did not break into deep faceted layers.


Although there have been no reports of avalanches breaking into the old faceted snow for about 5 days, the danger is still present. Throughout the Wasatch Range the distribution of deep weak layers is quite variable, so winter travelers need to carefully evaluate steep slopes before crossing them. If you can poke your ski pole or arm through the upper layers of the snow and find loose sugary crystals underneath, steep slopes in that area may be suspect. Also be suspicious of areas with hollow sounding hard wind slabs they often have weak facets beneath them. Remember, if you trigger an avalanche in the new snow it could step down into the old weak snow producing a larger and more dangerous avalanche.

Bottom Line:

The danger of human triggered avalanches is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. Human triggered avalanches and sluffs within the new snow are possible.

The possibility of triggering a larger and more dangerous avalanche remains.

(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 common than in the Cottonwood Canyons. The danger of human triggered avalanches is more widespread in the Provo and Western Uinta Mountains, especially where wind drifted.


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as above.


Mountain Weather:

Today temperatures will rise to near 20 degrees at 8,000 and into the high single digits at 10,000. Skies will be mostly sunny and northerly wind will blow in the 10 to 20 mph range. Tonight temperatures will drop just below zero at 8,000 but dont worry warmer weather is just around the corner. By Monday high temperatures will be near 30 degrees at 8,000 as warm westerly flow moves over Utah.


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the Bountiful Sessions today. For more information call 521-6040 ext. 5280.


The Banff Mountain Film Festival will be at the U of Us Kingsbury Hall on March 12 and 13, at 7pm. Tickets are $6.50. Dont miss this great benefit for the Utah Avalanche Center!


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.


For more detailed mountain weather and avalanche information, your can call 801-364-1591, which well 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 on Monday 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: