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

Saturday, April 6, 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 Saturday, April 6, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Skies were mostly cloudy overnight, and temperatures remained above freezing for the second night in a row.  They are currently in the mid thirties to low forties, and following Friday’s very warm highs of 45 to 60.  The snow pack did not refreeze last night, and both surface layers and deeper layers within the snow pack have become damp, with the consistency and strength of a slurpee or margarita.  Winds are averaging 15 – 20 mph from the southwest with gusts to near 40 in the more exposed locations.


We are doing an early morning corn report on the (801) 364-1581 line by 6:00 am for the rest of the season.


Avalanche Conditions:

We have issued a special avalanche advisory for the northern mountains of Utah.  Warm days and high nighttime temperatures have produced a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger, and large destructive natural avalanches are possible.  People should avoid steep slopes and avalanche runout areas.


We are in a wet slab avalanche cycle, and activity from yesterday includes several west facing slopes in Big Cottonwood at 9200’, that were 50 to 100’ wide, with debris depths of 4 to 6 feet deep, another east facing slope below the Hypodermic Needle in Hogum that was 150’ wide, the Y couloir in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and very deep debris was discovered in the meadows of Days Fork early this morning.   Several 1 to 4 foot deep wet slab avalanches have been reported from the Provo and American Fork area mountains in the past 2 days.  These slides are occurring on all aspects, mostly initiating above about 9,000’, but often running down and piling up debris over 1000’ vertical feet lower.


Following a second night without a solid overnight freeze, the snow pack has continued to loose strength and both wet sluffs and wet slab avalanches are possible today.   Both may release naturally, with the full depth wet slab avalanches the most dangerous.  These can be massive, catastrophic events.  This year’s snow pack, containing some very weak layers that formed in January, is unusually susceptible to this type of slide.  Some of these avalanches have already pulled out around the range and more are sure to follow.  While the timing of this type of slide is less predictable than we would like, periods without overnight freezes make these very dangerous avalanches more likely. 


If you must travel in the snow covered backcountry today, stay on low angle slopes, and be very careful to avoid areas with steep slopes above you.  There are already instances of large slides depositing deep debris down onto the flats and even into grassy meadows.


Bottom Line: 

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on and below all steep snow covered slopes today.  Human triggered avalanches are likely and natural avalanches possible.  There is a danger of very large full depth avalanches releasing naturally, especially in very steep rocky terrain. 


(Ogden Area and Western Uinta Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.  


(Provo Area Mountains)

Same as Salt Lake Mountains.


Mountain Weather:

A weak storm system is on track to bring some cooler air into northern Utah, with the front expected to reach the mountains mid morning.  The winds will shift to the northwest and decrease, and snow showers could lay down a couple of inches of damp snow.  The rain snow line may start out about 9,000’, dropping to 7,500’ by tonight.   The moist northwest flow will continue tonight and Sunday, bringing cloudy skies and snow showers.  Lows tonight near 30, and much cooler tomorrow, with highs 25 to near 40.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides are done for the season.


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. 


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: