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

Sunday, December 22, 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 Sunday, December 22, 2002, and its 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

The mountains picked up about two inches of new snow yesterday and another inch overnight. Last night under mostly cloudy skies temperatures dropped into the low teens at 8,000 and to about 10 degrees at 10,000. Winds have been in the 5 to 10 mph range from the west and southwest.


The snow surface is almost supportable and covered with soft powder snow. You can still break through into weaker snow if youre not gentle on your skis or snowmobile. Some south facing slopes below 9,500 have a thin surface crust from a few days ago.


Avalanche Conditions:

Today is the first day of winter, and I am glad that it is finally here! The solstice has brought us both good and bad news, and the good news is that cool temperatures and snow flurries today will make it feel like winter in the mountains. The bad news is that our latest avalanche cycle is far from over. Yesterday there were two human triggered avalanches reported from the Wasatch Backcountry. There was a remotely triggered avalanche on the northeast side of Little Water Peak. The slide was 1 to 3 feet deep and 80 to 100 feet wide. A group of skiers in the Tri Chutes area of White Pine also remotely triggered a northwest facing slope (photo1 photo2). The avalanche appears to be over 100 feet wide and about 2 feet deep. Both of these avalanches occurred on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.


Since last Tuesday there has been at least one human triggered avalanche reported each day. Like the two from yesterday, many of these slides have been remotely triggered. Nearly all of these avalanches have been breaking on a well developed layer of faceted or sugary snow that formed during our long dry spell. Although the snowpack is adjusting to the new-snow load from last week, it remains quite sensitive. Faceted weak layers often allow you to travel on a slope until you hit just the right spot and trigger a large avalanche. Thus far the avalanche activity has been on west through north, and north through east facing slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. Traveling in areas that have already slid is generally a good idea, but keep in mind that many of the recent avalanches broke mid-path leaving large chunks of snow in the starting zone. In these areas it is still possible to trigger a dangerous avalanche.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on west through north, and north through east facing slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. On south facing slopes and slopes in the 30 degree range the avalanche danger is generally MODERATE. Backcountry travelers should still avoid traveling under steep slopes or in gullies and other terrain traps.


Mountain Weather:

An upper level low, currently over southeast Oregon, will track to the southwest through Nevada and into central Utah today. This system will bring cooler temperatures, light winds, and snow flurries to the Wasatch Mountains. Temperatures will rise into the low 20s at 8,000 and low teens at 10,000. Skies will be mostly cloudy with snow flurries. It could snow all day, but it probably wont add up to more than 1 or 2 inches. Winds will blow in the 5 to 10 mph range from the west. Tonight the winds will shift to the northeast and the snow flurries will dwindle. It looks like our next good chance for snow will be next weekend.


General Information:

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center will offer an intensive 3-day avalanche class January 18-20. You can sign up at the Black Diamond Retail Store or call them at 278-0233.


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.


I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.


Thanks for calling!


National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: