Wasatch Cache National Forest

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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 Sunday, March 24, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

The storm has come through with a lot more punch than expected.  As of 6 am, the Ogden, Salt Lake, Park City and Western Uinta mountains have received 8 to 12 inches of dense powder, averaging about 10%. The Provo and Logan mountains are on the low side so far, with less than 6”. Winds are from the west northwest, and along the highest ridges are averaging 15 mph with gusts in the 20’s.  Once off the highest peaks, speeds are commonly less than 10 mph.  Temperatures have dropped into the teens and low 20’s.   


Underlying this new snow are generally supportable melt freeze crusts on most aspects and elevations, with a bit of dense settled powder on steeper upper elevation north facing slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

The main concern today will be avalanches within the new snow.  There are reports this morning of the snow being “upside down”, with a fairly sensitive weak layer near the base of the new snow.  While wind speeds are mostly light, the higher gusts have drifted the snow in places at the mid and upper elevations.  On steep slopes, the new snow will be sensitive to the weight of a person, especially in areas that have received a foot more of new snow or where the wind has drifted it.  With underlying hard bed surfaces, slides may run further and faster than expected.


The hazard of new snow avalanches could increase rapidly today in any location where the winds pick up and start blowing and drifting the new snow.  Also, there is the potential for brief periods of intense precipitation this afternoon, during which the hazard could also rapidly rise. 


There does remain a chance of triggering one of the deep, hard slab avalanches on slopes that did not have large slides during the avalanche cycle this past week.  The weak facets that created these large dangerous slides could still be triggered in some places today, with the most likely terrain being steep, rocky slopes and thin snow pack areas.


Bottom Line: 

There is a CONSIDERABLE danger of new snow slides on wind loaded slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper.  Human triggered slides are probable and natural slides possible.  Out of wind loaded terrain, steep slopes have a MODERATE danger.  There remains a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep, dangerous hard slab avalanche in steep terrain, especially in thinner snowpack areas. 


(Ogden Area and Western Uinta Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.  


(Provo Area Mountains)

As the Provo area mountains received less snow, the avalanche danger is MODERATE.


Mountain Weather:

Northern Utah will remain under a moist, northwest flow through Monday morning.  Moderate to heavy snow fall should continue south of I-80 this morning, and then become more showery this afternoon.  Additional accumulations of 4 to 8” are possible today in the Salt Lake and Park City mountains, with about 2 to 4” additional in the Provo and Ogden mountains.  This afternoon, the snow squalls could be briefly intense in localized areas, rapidly laying down snow.  Winds will be from the northwest, averaging 15 to 25 mph along the ridges.  Highs today will be in the mid 20’s at 8,000’ and near 20 at 10,000’.  Scattered snow showers tonight through Monday morning, with an additional 1 to 3” of snow possible.  Light northwesterly winds tonight, with lows in the upper teens.  Then dry and warmer Tuesday through Friday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will 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. 


Drew Hardesty 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: