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 29, 2002

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Good Morning.This is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Sunday, December 29, 2002, and itís 7:30 in the morning.

 

Current Conditions:

Itís been a blustery night in the mountains, and a disappointingly dry one, too, with not a flake of snow to report as of 6 am.But the barometer is falling, and light snowfall should begin later this morning.The winds have been blowing steadily from the south for over 24 hours, in the 15 to 20 mph range.Along the highest ridgelines, speeds have been a nearly continuous 30 to 40 mph, with gusts over 60. Temperatures are in the upper teens to low 20ís this morning.†† The recent warm temperatures and winds have created a dense, punchy, surface snow layer, and turning and riding conditions are tricky on all but the most sheltered shady slopes.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

The moderate to strong winds have created plenty of new wind drifts, especially on northwest through east facing slopes at the mid and upper elevations.In addition to being in the usual places along the ridges, the strong winds also drifted snow lower down on slopes, around sub ridges, gully walls, and steep breakovers. These new wind drifts are sitting on weak snow, but due to the warm temperatures, they are dense and stubborn.These harder wind slabs have the potential to let you get well out on to them before breaking above you.Avoiding them will become trickier later today when they are hidden by the new snow.

 

The persistent problem of the more deeply buried faceted weak layers has not gone away, and triggering one of these deeper avalanches may be even easier today in newly wind loaded areas.Many of the slopes that avalanched last week have the weakest snow, and could slide again.The best way to avoid triggering one of these deeper, larger slides is to stick to slopes that face the south half of the compass, which are much more stable, or if you are getting onto northerly facing slopes, to stay off of and out from under slopes approaching 35 degrees or steeper.

Many of the ice climbs in the northern Utah mountains are in avalanche paths.With recent warm temperatures and the possibility of natural avalanche activity today, ice climbers need to consider the avalanche danger.

 

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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on northwest, north, northeast and east facing slopes of about 35 degrees or steeper and on any steep slope with recent wind drifts at upper elevations, above about 9,000í. CONSIDERABLE means human triggered slides are probable and natural avalanche possible.There is a MODERATE danger at mid elevations on these same steep shady or wind drifted slopes.

 

Mountain Weather:

The approaching storm system is starting to look fragmented, with the first piece reaching northern Utah before noon.Light snowfall should begin late this morning, with 3-6 inches possible by evening.The strong southwest winds will decrease rapidly and shift to the west after the onset of snow.10,000í temperatures will continue to cool today, and be in the mid teens by evening.The second piece of storm energy will cross northern Utah tonight, hopefully bringing an additional 4 to 8 inches of snow. Moderate west-northwest winds tonight, with lows in the low teens.There will be a brief break in the snow on Monday, followed by quick shot of snow on Tuesday.

 

General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will not be flying 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.

 

Ethan Greene 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:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm