Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Friday, MARCH 15, 2002 07:30 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 Friday, March 15, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Under partly cloudy skies temperatures dropped just below zero at 8,000’ and into the single digits at 10,000’.  In low and mid-elevation areas the winds have been calm, but above 10,000’ the winds blew 10 to 15 mph from the northwest. 


Overnight about an inch of new snow fell in the mountains.  With yesterday’s 5 to 12 inches of new snow storm totals are over 50”/3.5” in Little Cottonwood, 40”/2.5” in Big Cottonwood, 30”/2.4” along the Park City Ridgeline, 18”/2” in the Ogden Mountains, 10”/0.7”in the Provo Mountains and over 36” in the Western Uintas.


Avalanche Conditions:

Due to the large size and dangerous nature of recent avalanches we have issued a Special Avalanche Advisory Statement for the Northern Utah Mountains and the Wasatch Plateau.  In the past 2 days several large and dangerous avalanches have been triggered by avalanche control programs and backcountry travelers.  Avalanches breaking in the new snow and down into deeper layers are likely.


Yesterday I had a lovely day poking and wading through more than 30” of new snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  After a day of excellent skiing on slopes in the 30 degree range my partner and I found ourselves at the top of a steep bowl on the west side of Butler Basin.  We decided not to ski the bowl, but to ski down the ridgeline on a slope more conducive to our route home.  I started down the slope and just before the break over large cracks shot from the snow near the tips of my skies into the bowl to my left.  The snow around me did not slide, but the collapse on this 33 degrees slope triggered an avalanche 4 to 6 feet deep and well over 300’ wide.  The avalanche occurred on an east and northeast aspect on a slope ranging from 35 to 40 degrees in steepness.  The slide broke on wet facets below the ice crust formed on January 6th.


Within the past few days we have rapidly added a tremendous load on our already fragile snowpack.  This has caused the deep slab instability to rear its ugly head.  Snow pits, cornice drops, ski and snowmobile tracks, and other usual signs of instability may not be good indications of the snowpack conditions.  To stay safe use your safe travel skills and keep your slope angles down.  


Bottom Line: 

The avalanche danger today is CONSIDERABLE on steep slopes in many areas of Northern Utah and the Wasatch Plateau.  Very large and dangerous human triggered avalanches are likely and natural avalanche are possible. 


(Provo Area Mountains)

The avalanche danger in the Provo Area Mountains is MODERATE.  Very large and dangerous human triggered avalanches are possible. 


(Western Uinta Mountains and Manti-Skyline)

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE.  


(Ogden Area Mountains)

The danger is CONSIDERABLE.


Mountain Weather:

Partly cloudy skies should turn to overcast skies and snow flurries this afternoon.  Winds will remain light this morning but will shift to the southwest and increase into the 15 mph.  Temperatures will rise to near 20 degrees at 8,000’ and near 10 degrees at 10,000’.  Snow showers should continue overnight with a cold front passing through Saturday afternoon.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the American Fork Area today.  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. 


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday 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: