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

SaturDAY, MARCH 23, 2002 07:30 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 Saturday, March 23, 2002, and itís 7:30 a.m.

 

Current Conditions:

Under cloudy skies, overnight temperatures in the mountains remained above freezing most of the night.In the last few hours they finally started to cool at the higher elevations, and are just below freezing at 10,000í.At 7,000 to 8,000 feet, temperatures are currently near 40.Winds are from the southwest, and on the highest peaks are hitting 25 to 35 mph, with gusts to 45.

 

Todayís snow surface conditions will be similar to yesterdayís - all you can eat mashed potatoes and breakable crusts, with a few isolated areas where the crust is supportable and very small portions of dense settled powder on steeper upper elevation northerly facing slopes.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

After a second night of nonfreezing temperatures combined with cloudy skies, many of the bonds in the snow pack are in a liquid state this morning, rather than the preferred solid form.For today, the danger of both wet snow sluffs and larger wet slab avalanches continues.Yesterday, the biggest wet slides reported were from the Provo area mountains on northwest through east facing slopes, often running over 1,000 vertical.Surface sluffs have the potential to step down and take out deeper layers, resulting in larger slides. Stay off of and out from under steep slopes where the snow is wet and mushy.Steep rocky areas and thin snow pack areas are particularly suspect. Cooling temperatures later today and tonight will bring a stabilizing trend.

 

Harder to anticipate is the possibility of deep slab releases.The Salt Lake, Park City, Provo and Western Uinta mountains all had numerous large natural, human triggered and explosive released deep slab avalanches from March 14th through last Wednesday.The facets that created this deep slab instability remain weak, and similar slides could still be triggered today.With the warm temperatures and lack of an overnight freeze, there is a 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.Places like Broadís Fork and Mill B where the snow is sitting on smooth rock slabs and areas that did not have deep releases this past week are particularly suspect.

 

Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on and below steep slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper.Human triggered wet snow sluffs and slabs are possible.Natural avalanche are possible in shallow snowpack areas, especially where underlain by rock slabs and in steep rocky areas.Some avalanches could break near the ground, and be very large and extremely dangerous.

 

(Provo Area and Western Uinta Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.††

 

(Ogden Area Mountains)

The Ogden area mountains have a MODERATE avalanche danger.

 

Mountain Weather:

Relief from the heat is in sight.A disorganized weather system will move into the Great Basin this afternoon and remain in place through the weekend.Skies will be overcast today with highs near 40 at 8,000í.The upper elevations are already starting to cool, and temperatures at 10,000í should drop to near 25 by evening.The winds will be from the southwest, averaging 20 to 30 mph along the high ridges, with gusts in the 40ís.A weak cold front should arrive late this afternoon, with a chance of lightning and a few inches of snow.Due to the convective nature of the air mass, precipitation amounts could vary widely over short distances.Continued cooling tonight through Monday, with snow showers likely.Another few inches of dense snow possible tonight, and again tomorrow.

 

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.

 

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.

Thanks for calling!

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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:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm