Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2002 7:30 AM



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Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, March 11, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Don’t miss the always-popular, annual Banff Mountain Film Festival at the U of U’s Kingsbury Hall this coming Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm.  You can get tickets at the Kingsbury Hall ticket office, Art-Tix, the University of Utah’s Outdoor Program (581-8516), and REI (486-2100).  This is a benefit for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center.


Current Conditions:

A mighty 3 inches of snow fell overnight in the Cottonwood Canyons with about an inch elsewhere.  Ridge top winds blew fairly strong overnight around 30 with 40 in the most exposed peaks gusting to 60 from the west.  Ridge top temperatures are near 12 this morning but should warm up to near 25 by tonight.  The snow surface conditions under this dusting of new snow consist of some soft but very settled, dense powder on straight north facing slopes above 9,000’ with various sun crusts on the sunny aspects, moist or crusty snow on all aspects below about 8,500’ and quite a bit of wind damage at and above tree line. 


Avalanche Conditions:

People out and about yesterday reported that yesterday’s morning’s strong winds created only very localized areas of hard wind slabs in the very wind exposed ridges and the warm temperatures have settled them out fairly quickly so they will be much more difficult to trigger today.  For the first time in many days, we didn’t get any reports of any human triggered avalanches from yesterday in the Wasatch Range.  I think today you will have two main problems to watch for.  First, there is still a few mostly hard wind slabs that you can still trigger, mostly at upper elevation wind exposed areas.  Second, with skies becoming mostly sunny today and warming temperatures, you can expect some wet activity especially on the sun exposed slopes today.  These will be mostly rollerballs and wet sluffs but probably not many wet slabs.  For instance, this isn’t a good day to build a jump or have a picnic under a steep, south facing slopes. 


If you are headed to areas outside of the Central Wasatch, you should realize that the snowpack is much thinner and weaker.  For instance, this past weekend on the Manti-Skyline area there were two very close calls.  A snowmobiler was buried with just a hand sticking out on both Saturday and another one on yesterday.  They were barely rescued alive by their partners.  For details on these slides, either call 364-1591 or check out the web site at www.avalanche.org in the accidents section.


For quite a few photos of recent avalanche activity—some of them quite spectacular--see the web site www.avalanche.org, click on Salt Lake, go to advisories and click on photos.



Bottom Line: 

The danger of human triggered avalanches is MODERATE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees that have recent deposit of wind drifted snow, which you will find mostly at the upper elevation wind exposed terrain.  There is also a MODERATE danger of wet avalanche activity on any steep slope as it gets soggy in the heat of the sun.  There’s a LOW danger elsewhere.


(Provo Area Mountains, Western Uinta Mountains and Manti-Skyline)

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 still CONSIDERABLE in the Provo, Western Uinta Mountains and especially the Manti-Skyline, especially on wind drifted slopes. 


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as SLC area mountains.


Mountain Weather:

Today we have a bit of a break before we head into 10 or more days of variable amounts of clouds and snow.  A weak, short-lived ridge builds over us bringing partly cloudy skies this morning and turning mostly clear as the day progresses with ridge top temperatures warming to near 25 degrees by tonight on a westerly flow.  Ridge top winds were strong last night but should diminish to around 15-20 from the west by tonight.


Extended Forecast:

A moist, westerly flow arrives on Tuesday with some snow and freezing levels around 7,500’ and ridge top winds 35 mph from the west.  Cold air will slowly sag southward, push up to the Utah-Idaho border and stall on Wednesday.  Ridge top temperatures will eventually drop to around 7 degrees by Thursday night and Friday.


After that, a low near the British Columbia coast looks like it will be a relatively permanent feature for the next 10 days as the trough continues to pump moisture into our area from the west.  With disturbances coming around the low, ridge top winds should be southwest and turning northwest with each disturbance.  Looks like a variably cloudy, snowy week or two coming up.


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly in the American Fork drainage.  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], 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 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 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: