Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2002 07:30 AM



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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 Friday, March 22, 2002, and itís 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Under partly cloudy skies, most overnight temperatures in the mountains remained above freezing last night.At 6:00 am 10,000 foot temps were in the mid thirties.There is some temperatures inversion and in the mountain valley bottoms the thermometers did drop to about 30 degrees but some mid slope, 7,000 and 8,000 temperatures are near 40 degrees.In the last couple of hours winds have started to increase from the southwest, now hitting 25 mph, with gusts to 45, on the highest peaks.I had a report of good corn snow in the Ogden mountains yesterday morning but with the poor overnight freeze, I doubt that itís happening today. Many slopes have breakable crusts and wet snow but there may be a little damp and heavy settled powder on upper elevation north facing slopes.

Avalanche Conditions:

Sightseeing probably remains the activity of choice in the mountains today.Craig Gordon checked out the big avalanches in Mineral Fork yesterday and told me the view is not to be missed.It is certainly one of the most impressive avalanches many of us have seen.It is instructive to see just what nature can do when she gets her back up.There was some wet avalanche activity yesterday but most were surface slides.Not that you would want to get flushed by a wet sluff down something like the Y Couloir but as far as I know, no big deep slab releases pulled out.If so, itís the first day in a week that we havenít had at least one huge avalanche in the mountains near Salt Lake.Some additional reports of snowmobiler triggered slides from the past week have trickled in, one in the Uintas and another east of Provo, both very big slides and very close calls.


With continuing warm temperatures and the lack of a good freeze last night, the danger of wet slides, both surface sluffs and big wet slabs may increase rapidly this morning.Yesterday the high, thin cloud cover kept the wet slides from getting out of hand and that could be the case again today, plus the increasing southwest winds may help keep the snow surface cooler on some slopes.Today will be a balancing act between the sun and wind and cloud cover.As the temperatures climb and especially if the sun starts baking the slopes, get off of and out from under steep slopes as the snow gets wet and mushy.


Harder to anticipate is the possibility of deep slab releases.With the warm temperatures and lack of an overnight freeze, there is certainly the possibility of large avalanches releasing naturally on deeply buried weak layers.If you happen to be in the path of one of these monsters when they decide itís time to rip, itís all over.This is not a good day to be fooling around the bottom of major avalanche run-out zones.Places like Broadís Fork and Stairs Gulch where the snow is sitting on smooth rock slabs are particularly dangerous in these conditions.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is localized or MODERATE this morning but will rise to CONSIDERABLE as the day warms.The danger could become HIGH, with natural avalanches likely, as temperatures soar this afternoon and especially if there is lots of sunshine.While slopes receiving direct sun will be the most active, the danger will increase in all areas as temperatures rise.Some avalanches could be very large and extremely dangerous.


(Provo Area Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.††


(Western Uinta Mountains)

The avalanche danger in the Western Uintas is CONSIDERABLE and may rise to HIGH.Very large and dangerous human triggered and natural avalanches are possible on steep slopes.


(Ogden Area Mountains)



Mountain Weather:

We will have one more day of warm weather before a cold front arrives on Saturday.Skies will be partly sunny with variable high clouds.Winds will be strong over the ridges, 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to 50, from the southwest.High temperatures today will be in the 50ís at 8,000 feet and in the 40ís at 10,000.The weekend will be a return to stormy weather.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides may not be flying 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.


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: