Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Saturday, MARCH 30, 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 Saturday, March 30, 2002, and its 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Overnight temperatures dropped into the low 20s above 9,000 feet, and to near 30 degrees at 7,000. At the 6,000 foot level, temperatures remained above freezing but with only some high clouds last night, I expect a decent re-freeze of the snow pack at all elevations. Winds have been from the northwest 10 mph or less below about 9,000. Above 9,000 winds are from the northwest in the 15 mph range with gusts over 30, and along the highest ridgelines wind speeds are 20 to 40 mph sustained, depending on location, with gusts over 50 mph.


Backcountry slopes have crusts of varying thickness and there is still some soft settled snow on protected due north aspects. Crusts are supportable on southerly facing slopes at around seven to eight thousand feet. If you are looking for corn you need to start early and to help you with those alpine starts we will be doing a corn hunters report on the (801) 364-1581 line at 6:00 am for the rest of the season.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday there were two human triggered avalanches reported from the Renolds Peak area. The first slide was triggered remotely on the south facing side of the peak. I triggered and took a short ride in the second slide on the southeast side of the peak at about 10:30 in the morning. The avalanche was 4 to 10 inches deep and nearly 300 feet wide. It ran on a damp layer of melt-freeze snow sandwiched between two hard crusts. An interesting note is that the snow surface was good corn snow and had not yet become slushy. Corn slab avalanches are fairly uncommon and this recent sighting has Kimbrough very excited. Several days with warm temperatures have helped the snow consolidate, but we have also had strong winds which have slowed our transition to a spring cycle. In areas that received the most snow during the last storm, the snow may not have baked enough to produce stable corn. If you are looking for corn, dont go off half-baked.


The winds have limited our wet avalanche activity over the past few days, but the potential exists. As the day heats up the danger of wet avalanches will increase. As the snow gets wet and slushy stay off out and out from under steep sun exposed slopes.


In addition to corn slabs and the daily increase in wet slide activity, we still have some deep slab concerns. Strong ridge-top winds are building wind drifts, but I expect fresh wind drifts to be limited to high elevation areas. The last reported deep slab avalanche releasing on Tuesday, but the weak layers are still down there and stability tests indicate that they are still sensitive. 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. 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.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on northwest, north and east facing slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. On southerly facing slopes the danger is generally LOW this morning but will rise to MODERATE with daytime heating. There is also 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 this weekend. Skies will be mostly sunny with some high clouds. Highs today will be in the low 40s at 8,000 feet and in the mid 20s at 10,000. Winds will be 20 to 30 mph from the northwest over the high peaks and ridges with calmer winds below about 9,000. Tonight skies will be mostly clear with temperatures dropping into the low 20s. Tomorrow should be a very nice day with calmer winds and slightly warmer temperatures.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the American Fork drainage 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!


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: