Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Friday, November 8, 2002



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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 Friday, November 8th.

The annual backcountry gear swap will be at REI this Saturday, November 9th , starting at 9am. You can bring in gear you want to sell tonight from 5 to 9pm. The proceeds benefit avalanche forecasting and education in Utah.


We wont have all our phone lines hooked up until next week, so you may find it easier to access this advisory on the internet.


Current Conditions:

A dandy early season storm is on our doorstep this morning. Precipitation started a little before daylight in the mountains and snow should keep coming down hard for most of the day. The snow level will be rather high today, around 7,000 feet. Winds are strong from the south, blowing 20 to 40 mph on the ridges, with gusts to 80.


Avalanche Conditions:

The main avalanche message is rising danger today and on into the weekend. On shady slopes above about 9,000 feet one to two feet of old faceted snow from October will provide a poor base for the fresh deposits. In addition, the very strong winds will be forming drifts on exposed slopes. As this storm develops, slides will be breaking both in the new snow and in the old layers from October.


If there is enough snow to turn or sled on, then there is enough snow to slide. To prove it, Utah has a sordid history of November avalanche fatalities. Several times these fatalities have been on the slopes of the not-yet open resorts. The resorts are not doing avalanche control work so the snow pack is just like the backcountry. If you head into the mountains today or later this weekend, carry avalanche rescue equipment and follow backcountry safety protocol; one at a time on the slope, dont cut a slope above other people and get out of the way at the bottom.


The fresh snow will be disguising many barely covered obstacles so beware of ending your season on some rock or stump that is just under the surface.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger today is confined to areas with old October snow: northeast, north and northwest facing slopes above about 9,000. Early today the danger is MODERATE on steep wind drifted slopes but will rise to CONSIDERABLE as accumulations add up. Human triggered avalanches will be likely and natural avalanches possible. As the weekend progresses, the dangerous areas will become more widespread. If this storm really puts it down, the danger could become HIGH later this weekend. Out of wind affected terrain and on lower angle slopes, the danger is LOW.


Mountain Weather:

A series of fast moving disturbances should bring significant snow to the northern Utah Mountains today through Sunday. Today, were expecting 6 to 8 of snow accompanied by very strong southwest winds. Snow should continue at times tonight and Saturday. The strong southwest to westerly winds will persist into Saturday. If this pattern develops as forecasted, snow totals by Monday may be 2 to 4 feet in favored locations.


General Information:

To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140. 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.


We have several free avalanche awareness talks coming up the first two are Tuesday, November 12th at 7 pm at REI and Thursday, November 14th at 7pm at the Black Diamond Retail store. For a complete list of evening talks and multi-day classes, visit www.avalanche.org and click on Resources and then Education.


I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday morning.


Thanks for calling!


National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: