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, November 9, 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 Saturday, November 9th.

The annual backcountry gear swap will be at REI today, November 9, starting at 9am.The proceeds benefit avalanche forecasting and education in Utah.


We wonít 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:

I donít have a good handle on just how much new snow there is in the mountains this morning as not many people got out yesterday and many of the automatic weather stations arenít running yet.Iíll hazard a guess at about 4 to 8 inches at 9,000 feet in the central Wasatch, with probably more in the northern parts of the range and in the Provo Mountains.At times yesterday the snow level was above 9,000 feet.Winds continue to blow, now from the west 20 to 40 mph on the high ridges with gusts in the sixties.Temperatures are around 30 degrees at 8,000 feet and should continue to cool.


Avalanche Conditions:

The main avalanche message is still increasing danger today and tomorrow as this storm continues.On shady slopes above about 9,000 feet one to two feet of old faceted snow from October provides a poor base for the fresh deposits.In addition, the very strong winds will be forming drifts on exposed slopes. Yesterday, one of our observers triggered a slide in a wind drift at about 9,500 feet on a northerly facing slope in Alexander Basin that broke well over two feet deep and 30 feet wide, running on October faceted snow.Another person triggered a similar slide at about 10,500 feet in upper Little Cottonwood. As this storm continues, 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, donít 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 still mostly confined to areas with old October snow:northeast, north and northwest facing slopes above about 9,000í.In this terrain the danger is CONSIDERABLE on steep wind drifted slopes.The danger may be higher and more widespread above 10,000 feet, especially in the Provo Mountains.Human triggered avalanches are likely and natural avalanches possible.As this storm continues, the dangerous areas will become more widespread, possibly becoming HIGH later this weekend.Out of wind affected terrain and on lower angle slopes, the danger is LOW.


Mountain Weather:

Rain and snow will continue at times today with a gradually lowering snow level, dropping to the valley by sometime tonight.Accumulations today at 8,000 feet should be about 3 to 6 inches, with 5 to 10 likely tonight.†† Snowfall may continue in the mountains into Monday.Winds will be strong from the west today, shifting to the northwest on Sunday.Mountain temperatures will be in the twenties today, dropping into the teens tonight.


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 Ė 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.


Wasatch Telmarkís Pray For Snow Party is tonight, starting at 7:30 at The Lazy Moon (32 Exchange Place); a great party with a tele flick and music.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling!



National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: