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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Good Morning. This is Bruce Tremper with the
As this morning, the Cottonwood Canyons have about 3
inches of new snow on a southwesterly flow with 4-6 inches in
Yesterday was one of the best days of the year with close to a foot of light, new snow and sunny skies and it really brought everyone out to enjoy life. As you might imagine, some of them also enjoyed seeing some avalanche activity, some closer than they probably wanted. Yesterday there were a couple human triggered avalanches in the Monitors on the Park City-Big Cottonwood ridgeline. They were east facing slopes, one 100 feet wide and another 200 feet wide. One was triggered by a skier as he approached an extremely sensitive cornice from the top. A snowboarder triggered a smaller one in White Pine in Little Cottonwood Canyon on a steep, treed rollover about 20 feet wide and a couple feet deep. Control work at the resorts produced a monster, 250 foot wide slide a couple feet deep on the Park City side of the range and in the Cottonwood Canyons, besides explosive controlled avalanches, one patroller was able to ski cut a slide about 40 feet wide. For more details on these avalanches, call 801-364-1591. All these slides are dry slab avalanches breaking about two feet deep on the old, extremely weak faceted snow that is taking an astounding long time to gain strength.
We’ve had a considerable or higher danger rating for the past two weeks, and in my memory, this is the longest time we have gone with continually scary avalanche conditions. Every day I go into the field thinking that surely we can lower the danger rating from considerable to moderate, but each day, I come back with my tail between my legs being frightened by what I see myself and hear about from others. For instance, yesterday as I tip-toed along the very crest of the rocky ridge between upper Days and Silver Fork, I continually collapsed the snow and one collapse, propagated the fracture onto the slope well below me, where a hanging snowfield about the size of a foot ball field filled with cracks like a spider web. It was only 33 degrees but if it was about 35 degrees or steeper, it probably would have slid, and it certainly would have been an impressive sight from my safe perch on the rock ridge above. There’s all kinds of slopes similar to this out there still hanging in the balance, where the wimpy weight of a person can make the slope shatter like glass.
As we continue to add weight on top of the fragile, buried weak layers, the danger will only get worse today. Also, this morning’s snow is denser than the light fluffy snow on the ground yesterday, so you will likely see some soft, shallow slabs formed from upside-down snow.
Bottom Line (SLC,
It’s not dangerous everywhere, just on some slopes. The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on slopes which face the north half of the compass, plus east facing slopes above about 8,500’ that are about 35 degrees or steeper and also on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. There is a MODERATE avalanche danger on slopes facing the south half of the compass and a LOW danger on slopes less than 30 degrees, which are not connected to steeper slopes above.
Today, the first half of this
storm will probably put down about 6 inches of snow on a southwest flow and
then after a short break this morning, this afternoon and New Year’s Eve, the snow
should start up again, possibly with lightning, and the flow should turn
northwesterly and continue to snow, adding probably another 6 inches of snow
and possibly a foot in places favored by a northwest flow such as the
Cottonwood Canyons. Ridge top winds will
blow around 20 mph from the southwest today, swi
The Friends of the
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 on New Year’s Day.
Thanks for calling!
For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: