Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Tuesday, December 10, 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 Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Current Conditions:

We’re still doing mid-day updates but may shift back to 7:30 a.m. soon as it looks like the weather may be changing at last.


Avalanche Conditions:

The past four weeks of almost completely dry weather has melted the snow off south facing slopes and seriously weakened the snow surface on many other slopes.  The weakest surface conditions are above 9,000 feet on northwest, north and northeast facing slopes.  I can’t remember seeing as well developed surface hoar on as many slopes as there is out there at this time.  East and west facing slopes that still have snow also have plenty of these big crystals, often on top of crusts of varying thickness.  Sometimes strong pre-storm winds break up surface hoar deposits but I am afraid that the layer may be too well developed and too widespread for the forecasted winds to make a big difference.  If we only get a couple of inches of new snow tonight, that weak layer will be disguised and protected, potentially setting us up for a nasty round of avalanches when a major storm arrives.    


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

The avalanche danger remains LOW today, but will rise tonight and Wednesday if this approaching storm gives us several inches of new snow.


Avalanche Tip of the Day:

Get out into the mountains during the early hours of an approaching storm to see how the new snow is bonding to the pre-existing snow surface on different aspects. 


Mountain Weather:

A welcome weather change is hopefully on schedule.  A preliminary cold front has already dropped the temperatures by about 10 degrees on the ridge tops this morning.  Clouds will increase today above the valley inversions.  Mountain temperatures will get into the low to mid thirties.  Ridge top winds will be 10 to 20 mph from the southwest, shifting westerly.  There is a slight chance of a trace to an inch of new snow today.


The next impulse should arrive tonight, producing snow showers continuing into Wednesday.  Low end estimates for storm totals are about 1 to 3 inches with around 3 to 6 possible.  This system should have enough energy and cold air to blow out the valley inversions by Thursday morning.  Clear weather returns for Thursday and Friday before another, and stronger storm, (keep your fingers crossed) approaches on Saturday.


General Information:

Bruce Tremper 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 lectures.  He is also giving an avalanche talk for the Wasatch Mountain Club on Thursday night, December 12th, at 7:00 pm at the Zion 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.


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory on Wednesday.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: