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

Thursday, December 26, 2002

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Good Morning.  This is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 26, 2002, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Temperatures are still mighty chilly this morning, between zero and ten degrees on the ridge tops with a 10 mph wind from the west.  Yesterday the winds blew fairly hard, around 25 mph from the west, creating some soft wind drifts above tree line.  In the past day and a half, about six inches of new, very light density snow fell in the Salt Lake and Provo Area Mountains with close to a foot in the Ogden Mountains.  In general, the Ogden and Logan Area Mountains have the deepest snowpack in the state—about 30-40 inches, other places in the northern Utah Mountains are around 20-30 inches.


Avalanche Conditions:

Today is the day we are going to find out exactly how widespread the avalanche danger is because there will lots of what we call “volunteer stability testers” running around in the mountains, jumping into all kinds of slopes, playing with their new Christmas toys.  Even though it’s been more than a week since we’ve had a significant new load of snow, we continue to see avalanches triggered in the backcountry.  For instance, yesterday, when investigating a human triggered avalanche that occurred a couple days ago on Sunset Peak at the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon, some seasoned avalanche professionals ski cut the adjacent slope and intentionally-triggered an even larger avalanche, 100 feet wide and 2-3 feet deep.  Another wise, old wizard was out yesterday and reported that “Wherever I go I see avalanches.  So the hazard is not decreasing.  If anything the hazard is worse because some of these slides are going to the ground now.”


The main problems are the slopes which did not slide during the big storm in mid December are still hanging in the balance waiting for the right trigger. The trouble is, that we’ve had several periods of light snow and wind since then, so it’s impossible to tell what has already slid and what has not.  So it’s a bit of Russian roulette today.  You can cross some slopes perfectly safely while others will fracture two feet deep with the fracture well above you and take you on the ride of your life.  The only sure way to stay safe is to either stick to the slopes that face the south half of the compass, which are much more stable, or if you go onto the northerly facing slopes, stay off of and out from underneath slopes approaching 35 degrees or steeper.


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

The avalanche danger is still CONSIDERABLE today on northwest, north, northeast, and east facing slopes 35 degrees or steeper and on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  On southerly facing slopes and on slopes less than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is generally LOW. 


Bottom Line: (Ogden Area Mountains)

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today on northwest, north, northeast, and east facing slopes 35 degrees or steeper and on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  On southerly facing slopes and on slopes less than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is generally LOW. 


Mountain Weather:

You should probably get out and enjoy this snow while you can because this will be the last day of cold temperatures and fluffy snow because it’s going to warm up and blow hard before a storm comes in on Saturday night.  Today, expect continued chilly temperatures with ridge top temperatures 5-10 degrees with light west to south winds and temperatures down at 8,000’ will be around 20 degrees.  We will have some clouds and a chance for light snow showers coming in by about mid day.  On Friday, temperatures will dramatically warm up and strong southerly winds will begin to blow.  By Saturday morning, the temperatures at 8,000’ will be above freezing with strong southerly winds.  Rain should fall at lower elevations with snow above about 8,000’.   It looks like the cold front will pass sometime around Sunday morning with snow into Monday. 


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly an avalanche class into Grizzly Gulch today and they may also check out a couple landing sites in Cardiff and Days Fork.


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 801-278-0233.


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.


Tom Kimbrough will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: