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

Friday, December 27, 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 Friday, December 27, 2002, and itís 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Temperatures have warmed all night and are now in the twenties at most mountain stations.Winds have picked up from the southwest, blowing 20 to 30 mph on the highest peaks and 10 to 20 at 10,000 feet.Snow surface conditions were decent yesterday with several inches of light powder snow over crusts, wind slabs and 1 to 3 feet of older faceted snow.Todayís warmer temperatures and wind wonít improve the backcountry snow riding conditions.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday an avalanche worker triggered a slide while doing control work in the American Fork drainage just south of Little Cottonwood Canyon.The slope had already been shot several times and had a bunch of slope cuts in it but released when the 11th person cut the slope.It was a northerly facing slope above 10,000 feet and was about 35 degrees steepness.Another slide was triggered remotely by a slope cut near Bonanza Flats on the east side of the range.This slide was large; 18 inches deep, 300 feet wide and ran 1,000 vertical.The slope was northeast facing at 9,200 feet.


These are yet more avalanches in a persistent pattern that has plagued the Wasatch since the last major storm rolled through here in mid December.My stability tests yesterday showed only a little improvement from the tests I did a week ago.I also found some large temperature differences between layers in the snow pack that may help explain why the snow is taking so long to stabilize and may even be loosing stability in places.


None of this bodes well for the future.A weather change is already upon us with the warming temperatures and increasing winds.Saturday will be even warmer and more windy and Sunday could see a decent storm over the Wasatch.Each time this season a storm has put down more than a foot of new snow we have been up to our ears in avalanches and the next storm will be no different.The snow surface is again quite weak, especially on the many slopes that avalanched last week, plus the deeper layers are still weak.If anything, the next round of avalanches will be more extensive than the last as more slopes now have pre-storm snow.


An additional problem today and Saturday will be fresh drifts in wind exposed areas.

In the current conditions the only sure ways to stay safe are to either stick to slopes that face the south half of the compass, which are much more stable, or if you are getting onto the northerly facing areas, stay off of and out from underneath slopes approaching 35 degrees or steeper.


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

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE on northwest, north and east facing slopes 35 degrees or steeper and on steep slopes with recent wind drifts.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 CONSIDERABLE on northwest, north, northeast, and east facing slopes 35 degrees or steeper and on steep slopes with recent wind drifts.On southerly facing slopes and on slopes less than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather:

Skies will be partly cloudy today with temperatures getting into the mid thirties at 8,000 feet and near thirty at 10,000.Ridge top winds will be 15 to 25 mph from the southwest.Saturday will be warmer and more windy with (hopefully) snow beginning Saturday night and possibly continuing through Sunday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly an avalanche class into Grizzly Gulch today.


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.


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday morning.


Thanks for calling!



National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: