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


               The Utah Avalanche Center Home page is: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/


Avalanche advisory

Monday, December 09, 2002

If you want this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day, click HERE.

If you want recent archives of this advisory, click HERE.

To e-mail us an observation, CLICK HERE.


Good Morning.  This is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, December 09, 2002


Current Conditions:

We’re still doing mid day updates until about Wednesday morning, when it looks like winter will finally return.


Avalanche Conditions:

You should get out today above the layers of smog in the valley and enjoy the warm, calm, sunny weather in the mountains because Tuesday night it looks like we’ll be returning to winter again, and then, even more winter by the weekend.  The main reason to get up in the mountains is not to work on your suntan, but to memorize exactly where the old snow exists and where it’s melted out to bare ground, because with any significant load of snow, we will have widespread avalanches on any slope with pre-existing snow and very little activity where the new snow falls on bare ground.  Avalanche forecasting doesn’t get much easier than that.  The clear skies over the past month have rotted the old snow into deep layers of granular snow, which have about as much strength as a pile of tortilla chips.  This rotten snow exists mostly at elevations above 9,000’ on northwest, north and northeast facing slopes.  The surface snow is still the weakest snow with several inches of extremely sugary, faceted snow, topped off with what Evelyn calls “trophy-sized” surface hoar crystals the nearly size of potato chips.    


Bottom Line (SLC, Ogden, and Provo Area Mountains):

The avalanche danger is still LOW today, but expect it to rise on Tuesday night if we get new snow and wind and it may become even more dangerous by this weekend.


Avalanche Tip of the Day:

As the weak storm arrives on Tuesday night, we will carefully watch how strong the wind blows before the snow begins and exactly where the wind blows.  Why?  As I’ve mentioned, the top few inches of the pre-existing snow is extremely weak.  If it starts snowing BEFORE the wind starts blows, the new snow will simply bury the dangerous weak layers and our avalanche danger will be much greater than if the wind blows the weak layers away before it starts snowing.


Mountain Weather:

Well, everyone has been wishing for snow and it looks like we’ll get our wish.  There is a significant change in the weather pattern brewing for this week.  Starting Tuesday night, we’ll get a few inches of snow with some fairly strong winds, which will certainly increase the avalanche danger on the slopes with pre-existing snow.  Then, after a break on Thursday and Friday, the long range weather charts continue to insist on a nice-sized storm for the weekend.  In the mean time, today will continue to be warm and sunny with 8,000’ temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s and the ridge top winds light from the south and southwest.  Tuesday, we will have increasing clouds with snow showers Tuesday night.


General Information:

Craig Gordon will be giving an avalanche awareness talk in Park City tonight at the Park City Library at 7:00 pm.  Then, I will be giving an avalanche talk at REI this Tuesday, December 10th at 7:00 pm, titled “The Science of Avalanches.”  It is a more advanced talk than our usual avalanche awareness talks and is sure to be interesting for all the avalanche nerds out there.  I will also be giving an avalanche talk for the Wasatch Mountain Club on Thursday night, December 12th, at 7:00 pm at the Zions Lutheran Church on Foothill Drive. 


If you’re planning on buying an avalanche rescue beacon for someone you love this Christmas, check out the recent tests of various brands of avalanche beacons on the web.  Point your browser to www.avalanche.org and click on Salt Lake, then on Education.  At the same location, you can find a complete list of avalanche talks and multi-day classes. 


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


Tom Kimbrough will update this advisory on Tuesday.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: