Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


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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 Wednesday, November 13, 2002 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


We won’t have all our phone lines hooked up for a couple more days, so you may find it easier to access this advisory on the internet.


Current Conditions:

Under cloudy skies, temperatures have remained warm overnight, and are near 30 at most elevations.  Winds are from the southwest, averaging 10 to 15 mph.  The sunny southerly facing slopes will be well crusted this morning, while settled powder remains on the shady aspects.  Coverage is still minimal, and expect to scrape at least a few barely covered rocks or stumps on all but the smoothest, grassiest slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Good visibility yesterday showed the mosaic of avalanche activity.  While many of the steep, upper elevation shady slopes have slid, what I found scary was the number of slopes that haven’t, and are just waiting for a trigger.  In general, the recent avalanches are averaging about 2 feet deep, 100 to 200’ wide, and are breaking into the old faceted snow layers from October.  However, wider and deeper slides have occurred, especially with explosives within the resorts.


We have classic “hard slab” conditions right now – while slides are becoming harder to trigger, they now have the potential to be larger and trickier – they are more likely to break once you are well down on to the slope or break on the second or third person.  Also numerous “bed surface” slides have been reported – after a decent size slide has been triggered with in the upper layers of the snow pack, a second slide releases near the ground as a person moves out onto the bed surface.  If you do get caught in a slide, the consequences could be especially ugly as the ride would be over the rocky ground surface.


So the places to avoid are the moderate to steep shady slopes where there was old October snow remaining before the recent storms.  This is mostly the northwest through northeast facing slopes above 9,000’, but may also include east and west facing slopes at very high elevations.  The old snow is most widespread in the upper Cottonwoods and the high elevations in the Provo and Uinta mountains. 


Today, a few, new fresh wind drifts will develop along the ridges and in open bowls, and should be avoided on any steep slope.




Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is still  CONSIDERABLE today on northeast, north and northwest facing slopes, approaching 35 degrees or steeper, above about 9,000’.  Considerable means dangerous human triggered slides are probable.  There’s a MODERATE danger on those same slopes between 30 and 35 degrees and on steep east and west facing slopes.  LOW danger terrain includes slopes of about 30 degrees of less, well out from under avalanche terrain.  


Mountain Weather:

A weak system will move across northern Utah today, followed by another weaker system on Thursday.  Expect overcast skies today, with light afternoon and evening snow showers and accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.  Winds will average 15 to 20 mph along the ridges, and shift from southwest to northwest midday.  Highs today will be in the upper 30’s.  Mostly cloudy tonight and Thursday, with occasional light snow showers and cooler temperatures.  A ridge of high pressure will return for Friday and Saturday. 


General Information:

Our next free avalanche awareness class will be 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 Salt Lake and then Education. 


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.


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


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: