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

THURsday, MARCH 28, 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 Thursday, March 28, 2002, and itís 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Overnight lows were near 20 above 9,000 feet, around 30 at 7,000.Some 6,000 foot temperatures were above freezing but with mostly clear skies, I expect a good re-freeze of the snow pack at all elevations.Winds are strong, hitting 20 to 30 from the west northwest along the ridges, with the highest peaks getting up into the forties with gusts to 60.Many backcountry slopes have crusts of varying thickness with a little settled powder on upper elevation shaded and wind sheltered slopes.There are probably some supportable crusts developing on southerly facing slopes at around seven to eight thousand feet.


Avalanche Conditions:

A person triggered a slide a little south of Twin Lakes Pass between Alta, Brighton and Solitude yesterday but he was able to quickly get off to the side.The slide was probably a fresh wind drift and broke 6 to 12 inches deep and about 100 feet wide.This week, several deep slab avalanches pulled out, both naturally and from explosive testing.One would think that the present weather pattern of warm days and cool nights would begin to at least partially or perhaps temporally stabilize these deep releases.Perhaps this is occurring but with the last reported deep avalanches releasing only two days ago, Iím not yet ready to bet my life on it.The most recent slides were in Mineral and Silver Forks in Big Cottonwood and Hogum in Little Cottonwood.These slides broke 3 to 4 feet deep on north through southeast facing slopes between about 9 and 10 thousand feet elevation.This is the Silver Fork avalanche.Another huge avalanche released in Black Rock Canyon of the Oquirrh Mountains and is visible from I-80.In addition to the deep avalanches, there have been numerous wet surface slides.Along with all the big avalanches we have also received reports of folks riding steep lines without incident.This type of pattern makes avalanche decisions difficult.Although there are many safe places to travel, there remains the possibility of triggering a very large and deadly avalanche.We are still seeing unusual avalanche activity, so your usual playgrounds and travel routes may not be entirely safe.With supportable crusts developing on sunny slopes, there is good reason to limit travel to the sunny side, which is mostly stable until daytime warming reduces the snow to wet slop.


Strong northwest winds over the past two days have produced some shallow but sensitive drifts along the upper elevation ridges.This is probably the source of the Twin Lakes slide yesterday.Be alert for fresh drifts on steep wind exposed slopes above about 9,000 feet.Although the cool northwest winds will slow the heating, there will probably be some wet slides today on sun baked slopes. Some natural wet slides will be possible so avoid runout areas in the afternoon.Once the snow gets wet and mushy, it is time to get off of and out from underneath steep slopes.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.As temperatures reach their daytime highs, the danger may rise to CONSIDERABLE, with natural avalanches becoming possible and human triggered slides likely.There is a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep, very 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)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.


Mountain Weather:

A cool northwest flow will be over Utah today and Friday.Skies will be partly to mostly sunny, with highs today between 40 and 45 degrees at 8,000 feet and in the upper thirties at 10,000.Winds will be 20 to 30 mph from the northwest over the high peaks and ridges.With mostly clear skies and overnight lows in the twenties, the snowpack should re-freeze tonight.


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 Friday 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: