Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

suNday, MARCH 17, 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 Sunday, March 17, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Convective and lake effect precipitation bands blanketed the mountains with snow overnight.  Six to 10 inches fell in the Salt Lake, Provo Mountains, and Ogden Mountains.  In the last 24 hours new snow totals are over a foot in the Cottonwood Canyons and at least 20” in the Provo Area Mountains.  Temperatures dropped into the mid teens at 8,000’ and into the single digits at 10,000’.  Westerly winds have been blowing in the 20 mph range with gusts in the 40’s along the ridges and about 10 mph lower in the valleys.  


Snowfall totals for the week are 50 to 70 inches in the Cottonwood Canyons, 30” in the Ogden Mountains, 30” in the Provo Mountains, 36” along the Park City Ridgeline, and over 40” in the Western Uintas.


Avalanche Conditions:

Due to the large size and dangerous nature of recent avalanches, I have continued the Special Avalanche Advisory for the Wasatch Range and Western Uinta Mountains.  In the past 4 days avalanche control programs and backcountry travelers have triggered numerous large and dangerous avalanches, many of which are breaking into deep weak layers.


Yesterday a group of 10 snowboarders were caught in a large avalanche in the Pioneer Peak/Dog Lake area.  Two members of the group were buried and killed.  I have not yet received any additional information on this tragic accident, but I will put more details on the extended line as they arrive.  Early reports indicate that the avalanche was 4 to 6 feet deep and several hundred feet wide.


There were several other human triggered avalanches reported yesterday from the Cottonwood Canyons and the Western Uintas.  Many of the avalanches reported in the past 4 days have been breaking into deep layers.  Fracture depths in excess of 5’ have been common.   Crusts and upper level facets that formed on Friday may prevent the newest snow from bonding to the old surface.  Avalanches in the new snow could easily trigger large and dangerous avalanches that break into the deeper layers.



The stability pattern continues to be quite complex - a bit like having land mines scattered throughout the backcountry.  While the chance of triggering one of these slides may only be localized, the consequences if you do could easily be fatal.


Snow pits, cornice drops and ski and snowmobile tracks may not be good indications of snowpack stability. To stay safe keep your slope angles down and use your safe travel skills.  Slides could be triggered remotely, so also watch the angle of the slopes above and to the sides of you. 


Bottom Line: 

Today the avalanche danger in the Provo Mountains is HIGH.   Both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely.  Throughout the rest of the Wasatch Range and Western Uinta Mountains the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE.  Very large and dangerous human triggered avalanches are possible.    


(Provo Area Mountains)

Provo Area Mountains received more snow in the last storm.  The avalanche danger is HIGH.   Very large and dangerous human triggered avalanches are likely. 


(Western Uinta Mountains)

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE.  Very large and dangerous human triggered avalanches are possible. 


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as above.


Mountain Weather:

A series of small disturbances are moving through a broad upper level trough.  The first system should continue to produce mountain snow though mid day.  There will be a break in the cloud cover in the afternoon, but the next system could arrive before the end of the day.  Westerly winds in the 15 mph range will shift to the southwest this afternoon and northwest overnight.  Temperatures will rise into the mid 20’s at 8,000’ and to near 10 degrees at 10,000.  Periods of heavy snow are expected overnight with 4 to 12 inches dependent on location.  Heavy snow could continue through mid day on Monday as the trough axis passes. 


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in 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. 


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: