Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Sunday, MARCH 31, 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 Sunday, March 31, 2002, and its 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Under clear skies overnight temperatures dropped into the upper 20s and low 30s at most locations below 10,000. Above 10,000 overnight lows were in the low 20s. The winds have been calm in many low elevation areas, but above 9,000 the winds have been from the west-northwest in the 10 mph range and in the 20 mph range along the high ridgelines.


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 below about 8,500 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:

There was no new avalanche activity reported yesterday, but I did receive a report of collapsing snow at about noon on a south aspect in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Remember that collapsing snow or whoomphing sounds are red-light signs. If you hear them stay off of and out from under steep terrain. On Friday there were two human triggered corn slab avalanches on the southerly aspects of Reynolds Peak . These avalanches occurred when the snow surface was still fairly firm.


Today is going to be the warmest day of our current warm up. Temperatures will be about 5 degrees warmer and the winds have dropped off significantly. As a result the snow will heat up much faster today. Be sure to look for signs that the danger of wet avalanches is increasing. If you see wet sluffs, point-release avalanches, roller balls, or if you are sinking into the snow more than about 4 or 5 inches it is time to get off of 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. The last set of deep slab avalanches released on Tuesday, and even though the most recent activity has been confined to Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons the potential still exists in other portions of our forecast area. The weak layers are still down there and stability tests indicate that they are still sensitive. Along with big avalanches we have also received reports of folks riding steep lines without incident. Even though the chances of triggering a deep slab avalanche are decreasing remember that the consequences will still be severe.


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:

Today should be the warmest of the past few with a dry northwest flow over northern Utah. Skies will be mostly sunny with occasional high clouds especially in the north. Highs today will be near 50 degrees at 8,000 feet and near 30 degrees at 10,000. Winds will be 15 to 20 mph from the west-northwest over the ridges with calmer winds below. Tonight skies will be clear with temperatures dropping into the mid to upper 20s. Tomorrow should be another nice day with slightly calmer winds and warm temperatures. A dry cold front is forecast to move through the Wasatch Mountains Monday night and then high pressure becomes firmly ensconced over the western U.S.


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.


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: