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

saturDay,MARCH 9, 20027:30 AM



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Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Saturday, March 9, 2002, and itís 7:30 a.m.


Donít miss the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the U of Uís Kingsbury Hall on March 12 and 13, at 7pm.Tickets are available at the Kingsbury Hall ticket office, Art-Tix, the University of Utahís Outdoor Program (581-8516), and REI (486-2100).Donít miss this great benefit for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center!


Current Conditions:

Yesterdayís greatly appreciated storm has moved east of Utah, leaving a blanket of fresh powder in its wake.Two day storm totals include 2 feet in most parts of the Cottonwood Canyons and the western Uintas, with just over a foot on the Park City side and in the Ogden and Provo mountains.Densities averaged around 8%, though the snow is thicker in wind affected terrain.Winds during the storm were strong, averaging 30 to 45 from the west and northwest, and they blew well down off the ridges into the mid and lower terrain.


This morning, under clear skies, temperatures are near zero.The winds are from the west, averaging 25 to 35 mph in the more exposed locations, and nearer to 15 along the less exposed ridge lines.


Avalanche Conditions:

Visibility was poor most of yesterday, limiting backcountry observations.However, within the resorts the fresh wind drifts were sensitive, and widespread new snow avalanches were reported from control work in wind loaded areas.Today, while these new wind drifts will be more stubborn, continue to avoid steep slopes that were wind loaded during the storm.Cornices could also be sensitive, breaking back further than expected.


Also of concern today will be the more deeply buried weak layers.During the past 2 months, many weak faceted layers developed with in the snowpack, often sandwiched between crusts.Most likely this storm did not add enough weight to cause widespread avalanching on these deeper weak layers.This means many steep slopes are hanging in balance, just waiting for a trigger.I would consider almost any steep slope suspect, especially where wind loaded or in thinner snow pack areas.The most likely place to trigger one of these deeper slides would be on slopes similar to where the steady numbers of avalanches were triggered over the past weeks.This is on a northwest through northeast through southeast facing slope, above about 9,000í.The likelihood increases with elevation and wind loading.Areas with weak underlying snow are most wide spread in the Western Uintas and Provo mountains. But the Park City Ridgeline and most drainages within the tri-canyon area also include slopes with weak snow - the distribution is just more pockety.With these types of weak layers, remember that slopes may be remotely triggered so watch the angle of slopes above and to your side.


With abundant sunshine and dramatic warming today, sunny slopes will heat up rapidly, triggering wet sluffs and slides.So as sunny slopes heat up, stay off of and out from underneath them.


While the focus will be on powder today, take a deep breath and keep thinking avalanches if you get into steep terrain.Go one at a time on steep slopes and watch out for the position of other backcountry parties.

Bottom Line:

The danger of human triggered avalanches is CONSIDERABLE today on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially where wind drifted and in thinner snow pack areas.Human triggered avalanches are likely.Avalanches in the new snow may break into deeper layers, creating large and very dangerous slides.With day time heating, the danger of wet slides will rise to MODERATE on and below steep sunny slopes.


(Provo Area Mountains and Western Uinta Mountains)

These areas have had a thin snowpack most of the winter and 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.

Elevation dependent, significantly more snow as increase in elevation.



(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as above.


Mountain Weather:

An upper level ridge will slide across Utah today, bringing clear skies.This morningís cold temperatures will rapidly warm, and afternoon highs should reach near 20 at 10,000í and near 35 at 8,000í.Winds will remain from the west, averaging 15 to 25 mph along the ridges.†† Tonight and Sunday there will be increasing clouds and strong southwest winds ahead of a weak disturbance that should reach northern Utah Sunday night.


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying one ship in American Fork and the other in Cardiff, Days, and Silver drainages, returning above the town of Alta.For more information call 521-6040 ext. 5280.


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 weíll 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.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday 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: