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


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Avalanche advisory

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

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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 Wednesday, January 1, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

I can’t think of a better way to greet the New Year than with the clean, white blanket of snow that is spread across the mountains.  Last night the Salt Lake and Park City mountains received an additional 4 to 5” of snow above about 8,000’.  Storm totals since midnight Monday are generally a foot in the Logan, Ogden, Salt Lake and Park City mountains, with an inch of water equivalent.  The Provo area mountains are reporting about 8” from their low to mid elevations weather sites.  With densities averaging 8-10%, the new snow has done a great job of filling in most of the old tracks and covering old crusts.  


This morning, light snow flurries are lingering around a few of the peaks.  The winds have died down, and are averaging less than 15 mph from the northwest.  Temperatures are in the low teens at 10,000’.


Avalanche Conditions:

The winds during yesterday’s the storm were strong and gusty, with 20 to 40 mph averages, and gusts in the 60’s across the higher peaks.  These strong winds blew from SE through NW, creating drifts on a variety of aspects.  The most likely place to trigger a slide today will be one of these medium to hard wind drifts that were formed by yesterday’s strong winds.  These drifts may be well off the ridges, cross loaded around terrain features, and also hidden by last night snow.  A slide in one of these shallow wind drifts could trigger a much wider and deeper slide on the more deeply buried facets.   Cornices will also be sensitive today and should be avoided.


We have also just overloaded the more deeply buried faceted weak layers.  Yesterday, one slide was intentionally triggered by a party on a northeast facing slope in West Monitor.  The second ski cut released a 2 to 3’ deep, 200’ wide slide breaking in the facets near the ground.  While the slide was triggered on a 40 degree slope, it propagated back and pulled out pieces of a 30 degree slope.   Slides breaking in these deeper facets are getting a bit more stubborn, but also trickier and nastier.  Ski cuts may not work and the slide may wait to release until you are well onto the slope or on the second or third person.   If you do trigger one of these hard slabs, it will be much deeper and wider, and may pull out adjacent lower angle terrain to the sides and above.  Slides paths that ran earlier last month are now filled in and can run again.



Finally, as the day heats up, the sun and warming temperatures may trigger a few point sluffs on steep sunny slopes, especially below rock bands. 


For more details on these avalanches, call 801-364-1591.  


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

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.  Considerable means human triggered slides are probable in this terrain, and natural avalanches possible.  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.


Mountain Weather:

High pressure is building into the area for today and tomorrow.  This morning’s few lingering snow flurries will dissipate and give way to mostly sunny skies by this afternoon.  Highs today will be in the mid 20’s at 8,000’ and near 20 at 10,000’.  Winds will shift to the north and decrease to less than 10 mph along the ridges.  Clear skies tonight, with light northerly winds and lows in the teens.  Sunny and warmer on Thursday, with slight chances of snow Friday and Sunday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying today in mid and upper elevation Cardiff Fork, upper Silver Fork, with a home run in Grizzly gulch.


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.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: