Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Tuesday, April 2, 2002 07:30 AM



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Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, April 2, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Under clear skies overnight lows were in the mid and upper 20’s along the highest ridgelines, with 8000’ lows in the mid and upper 30’s.  The winds picked up around dinner time last night and have been averaging in the 30-40 mph range, and about 10 mph less off the exposed ridges.  


There’s a wide array of backcountry snow surface conditions, though most have crusts of varying degrees of supportability.  However, if you look hard enough, you can still ride or ski corn and recycled powder on the same day.  Melt freeze crusts are supportable on southerly facing slopes below about 9,500’ 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:

No significant activity was reported from yesterday.  Between Friday and Sunday, however, a total of three and possibly four corn avalanches were reported from the backcountry.  These were along the Park City ridgeline and off Reynold’s Peak.  By and large, all of these were from 4”-2’ deep, with some propagating up to 300’ wide.  All were human triggered on mid-elevation sunny aspects, with slope angles in the mid to upper 30’s.  It’s clear that we are still in the early stages of a corn cycle, and it may be that the moderate to strong winds that we’ve had have been a factor in stalling out the melt freeze cycle, limiting the refreeze to only the top inch or three.  So until the “bridge” of the refreeze penetrates deeper in the pack, we may continue to see some of these unusual things.  If you can push your ski pole through a relatively thin melt-freeze crust, or if you hear and feel collapsing in the snow, it might be time to head somewhere else.  Here’s a photo of one taken Friday on Reynold’s Peak . 


But, back with our standard springtime precautions.  As with most things in life, timing is everything: if you see wet point-release avalanches, roller balls, or are sinking up to your shins or bogging down in the wet glop, it’s time to change your aspect or set your alarm earlier for tomorrow.  Keep in mind that rocky outcrops, cliff-bands, and to some extent trees are notorious  starting points for wet activity.


There are still a couple of other concerns.  One, of course, is the lingering deep slab instability – strength tests continue to indicate that our deeply buried weak layers are still sensitive on the northwest through east mid and upper elevation aspects.  The other concern is the potential for glide avalanches on the steepest slopes underlain by a rocky slab.  Glide cracks have been observed on some of this type of terrain. 


Bottom Line: 

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:

The bluebird will continue to sing, with daytime highs cooler than the last couple of days.  8000’ highs will be in the upper 40’s, with 10,000’ temperatures near 30 degrees.  The winds will continue to be moderate to strong out of the northwest, and backing off to moderate by late afternoon.  A weak shortwave will move through on Saturday that may produce some light precipitation for the northern mountains, with the ridge rebuilding by Sunday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in American Fork 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.  We have a new avalanche and backcountry observation page that we’d like to encourage folks to try out.  It can be found on our home website at avalanche.org.  You can also 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. 


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 Wednesday 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: