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

Monday, December 16, 2002

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Good Morning.  This is Ethan Greene with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, December 16, 2002, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s storm kind of fizzled out bringing 1 to 3 inches to the Wasatch Mountains.  This “angry inch” of snow was accompanied by strong southwest winds and a little thunder and lightning.  Overnight temperatures dropped into the mid 20’s at 8,000’ and mid teens at 10,000’.  Winds speeds dropped into the 15 mph range most of the night, but are increasing this morning.  The wind direction has been south and southwest.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday the strong winds moved both the new and old snow around creating sensitive wind slabs mostly on north through east aspects.  These wind slabs were around 6 inches deep and quite sensitive.  Some of the slabs were near ridgelines, but the strong winds also built slabs lower down on open slopes and along the sides of gullies and sub ridges.  Several observers noted that you could move in and out of wind loaded areas very quickly and described the distribution as “pockety”.


Today should be more of the same.  Southwest winds are already increasing into the 25 mph range, and this trend should continue most of the day.  Keep an eye out for fresh deposits of wind loaded snow.  They will be smooth and puffy looking, and may be scattered around each basin.  The avalanche danger is greatest on any steep slope where you can find dense hard snow sitting on top of loose sugary snow. Even though we did not get much new snow yesterday, our fragile snowpack could barely handle 6 inches of wind-loaded snow.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today in all wind loaded areas.  Wind loaded areas will include, but are not limited to upper elevation ridgelines.  Wind pockets exist lower down on open slopes and along smaller terrain features.  In non-windloaded areas the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather:

High pressure is building at the surface over eastern Utah as the next Pacific storm approaches.  Today expect southwest winds to increase during the day.  Ridge-top wind speeds could reach 30 to 40 mph sustained with higher gusts.  Temperatures will rise into the upper 30’s at 8,000’ and mid 20’s at 10,000’.  The next system will begin to roll in during the afternoon.  Skies will become mostly cloudy and we should see some scattered snow showers.  The cold front is expected to reach the Salt Lake Valley this evening producing snow in the Wasatch overnight.  Snow accumulations should be an inch or less today, but be could pick up 3 to 6 inches by Tuesday morning.  Areas favored by southwesterly flow should receive the most snow.


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, 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.


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


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

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