Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

THURsday, MARCH 14, 2002 12:30 PM



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Good morning, this is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory. Today is Thursday, March 14, 2002, and its 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Our Olympic visitors might not have realized it but it really can snow in the Wasatch. At least the Para Olympians will get some fresh powder. Little Cottonwood got more than another foot overnight. Storm totals are now 3 to 4 feet in the Cottonwoods, 1 to 2 feet in the Ogden and Logan areas and only a foot or less in the Provo Mountains. Central Utah and the Uintas also got 2 to 3 feet. Winds have not been especially strong. Last night they were 25 mph from the northwest on the highest peaks and 10 to 15 at 10,000 feet. Temperatures have dropped to around 10 degrees.


Avalanche Conditions:

There is an avalanche warning in effect for the mountains of northern Utah and the Wasatch Plateau. In areas that received the most new snow and also had a shallow and weak pre-existing snowpack the avalanche danger is high. Places that received smaller storm totals and had stronger snow on the ground before the storm have a considerable danger. In places that received less than about a foot of new snow, the danger is moderate.


Avalanche control work at the resorts and for the Little Cottonwood road yesterday produced many slides, mostly breaking within the new snow. A few control slides did break or step down into deeper weak layers. During the peak precipitation periods snow was piling up too fast to stick to the slopes and was releasing a large loose sluffs and cornice falls triggered other slopes . Several people were able to trigger backcountry slides 1 to 2 feet deep with slope cuts and by kicking cornices. The most significant avalanche that I have heard about was triggered by a backcountry skier in lower Mineral Fork in Big Cottonwood. This group had kicked some cornices and ski cut some smaller slides and made a run. While heading back up on the skin track, the whole slope released wall to wall, 4 feet deep and 600 feet wide, taking out their ski tracks and breaking off trees in the runout. There was only a little more than a foot of new snow in that area when the slide was triggered but the pre-existing snow was shallow and weak. The snow pack in lower Mineral is more like what you can find in the Uintas, near Provo and on the Wasatch Plateau.


Avalanches today may be large and very dangerous. Slides can be triggered from a distance, so stay out from under and away from steep terrain.

Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is HIGH today on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees in the Cottonwood Canyons, in the Uinta Mountains and on the Wasatch Plateau. The danger is CONSIDERABLE in the Provo, Ogden and Logan Mountains and on the Park City side of the Wasatch. Human triggered and natural avalanches are likely. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended in the areas with a high danger and use caution in all areas.


(Provo Area Mountains)



(Western Uinta Mountains and Manti-Skyline)

The avalanche danger is HIGH.


(Ogden Area Mountains)

The danger is CONSIDERABLE.


Mountain Weather:

The storm is about over. The mountains will continue to get snow showers today and perhaps even into tonight but accumulations will only be a few inches in the Cottonwoods with a trace to a couple of inches in other parts of the range. Winds will be 10 to 20 mph over the ridges from the north. Temperatures wont get out of the teens. Skies will be partly cloudy on Friday and another storm may arrive for Saturday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides may not be flying today. 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 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.


Ethan Green will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday 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: