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

tuesday, MARCH 12, 2002 7:30 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 Tuesday, March 12, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


The annual Banff Mountain Film Festival starts tonight at the U of U’s Kingsbury Hall at 7pm.  You can get tickets for tonight’s and Wednesday’s showings at Kingsbury Hall, 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 strong southwesterly flow will bring mild, moist weather to northern Utah today and tonight.  Under overcast skies, temperatures have been warming and are fairly uniform this morning - in the mid 20’s to low 30’s throughout the mountains.  Ridge top winds are westerly, averaging 15 to 25 mph south of I-80, and 25 to 30 mph to the north.


There is quite a mixture of snow surface conditions out there today.  Soft dense powder is limited to northerly facing slopes above about 9,000’.  Other aspects and elevations have a mix of wind damage, various sun crusts, and moist or crusty snow on all aspects below about 8,500’. 


Avalanche Conditions:

The combination of longer days and warmer temperatures makes it feel like spring is already here.  Another sign is the rapid stabilization of the snow after each storm or wind event – most of the old winds slabs seem glued right in there, and yesterday’s few inches of new snow bonded fairly well.    Today, a few shallow new wind drifts may develop as the southwesterly winds increase to strong and start to move a bit of snow.  Drifts will be most common on northeast through southeast facing slopes above about 9,000’.  But as always, watch for cross loading around terrain features such as gully side walls, rock out crops and sub ridges.  The warm temperatures may make cornices more sensitive today.  


With warm overnight temperatures and rain possible later today at the lower elevations, watch for wet snow sluffs, especially on northerly facing low and mid elevation slopes today.  Any time the snow gets wet and mushy where you are, get off of and out from under steep slopes and avoid terrain traps such as gullies.


In the Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden mountains there is still an isolated potential for slides to break on weak faceted snow near the ground where the snow pack is thin, such as near rocks and ridge lines and on slopes that have been wind eroded.  In the Provo, Western Uinta and Wasatch Plateau mountains, thinner snow pack areas are much more wide spread, the snow generally weaker and the avalanche danger higher


Bottom Line: 

The danger of human triggered avalanches is MODERATE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees that have recent deposit of wind drifted snow.  There is also a MODERATE danger of wet avalanche activity on snow covered steep slopes at low and mid elevations.    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 widespread.  The danger of human triggered avalanches is still CONSIDERABLE in the Provo, Western Uinta Mountains and the Manti-Skyline, especially on wind drifted slopes. 


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as SLC area mountains.


Mountain Weather:

A moist westerly flow will develop over northern Utah today and tonight.  Increasing southwesterly winds today, averaging 25 to 35 mph along the exposed ridges.  Light snow should begin around noon, with areas north of I-80 receiving 3 to 6”, and south of I-80 2-4”.  Highs at 10,000’ will be in the low 20’s and at 8,000’ in the mid to upper 30’s.  The rain/snow line will be around 6,500’.  Tonight there will be continued moderate southwesterly winds and light snow showers, with another 2 to 4” possible.  Lows will be in the mid 20’s.  The remainder of the week looks unsettled, with a decent shot of snow expected tomorrow and then again on the weekend.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly in the Cardiff, Days, and Silver drainages, with a home run in Grizzly Gulch.  For more information call 521-6040 ext. 5280.


On a very special note, Drew Hardesty and his wife Hilary are proud new parents of a baby boy.  Rumor has it mother and baby are doing well, but father is still recovering.


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. 


Tom Kimbrough 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: