Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Sunday, January 5, 2003

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Good Morning.  This is Ethan Greene with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, January 5, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Mountain temperatures showed significant variation last night with some areas dropping into the mid 20’s and others remaining in the mid 30’s.  It appears the freezing level was near 8,000’ at most locations.  Skies have been mostly cloudy overnight, and there is a trace of new snow.  The wind has generally been from the west in the 15 mph range.  Along the highest peaks the wind has been blowing in the 30 mph range with gusts over 50 mph.


Sun crusts cover most south, east, and west facing slopes.  While dense powder remains on northerly aspects.  Yesterday’s warm temperatures dampened the snow below about 8,000’.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday’s spring like weather would have been welcome if it wasn’t January.  Over the last two days we have seen unseasonably warm temperatures in the Wasatch Mountains.  This warm weather has caused our avalanche dragons to become a bit sluggish, but unfortunately remain quite sensitive.


Yesterday I traveled along the Mill Creek/Big Cottonwood Canyon ridgeline and found many thick wind drifts that formed during the last week.  These drifts were quite firm and did not have much of a reaction as I walked across them.  However if you found a thin spot the weak snow near the ground would collapse creating a large whoofing sound.  In one of the steep chutes off of Wilson Peak, which faces northeast at about 9,500’, I was able to jump around on a deep drift without any results, but by skiing onto a subridge I triggered an avalanche 1 to 2’ deep and 70’ wide (photo1, photo2).


Backcountry skiers were also able to trigger slides on northwest and northeast aspects of Mount Raymond and in the Twin Lakes Pass Area.  The avalanches on Mount Raymond were about 1’ deep and 40 to 75 feet wide.  They were triggered remotely breaking one to two hundred feet away from the skier.


Out of our area, but still of interest, a snowmobiler was caught and buried on a steep east facing slope near Tower Mountain in the Daniel’s Summit Area.  Fortunately he got one hand above the snow surface and his companions were able to dig him out with only minor injuries.

Many areas below 8,000’ may a marginal refreeze this morning.  Temperatures should be cooler most of the day, but until the snow cools wet slide potential remains in low elevation areas.


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

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east, above about 8,500’ and about 35 degrees or steeper; that’s about the steepness of a black diamond slope at a ski resort.  Human triggered avalanches are probable in these areas.  The danger of wet slides will be decreasing from MODERATE today in areas below 8,000’.    On southerly facing slopes the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

A weak low pressure system will move through northern Utah today.  Skies will be mostly cloudy with westerly winds in the 25 mph range this morning.  The winds will shift to the northwest this afternoon, and eventually to the north this evening.  Snow showers are possible throughout the day, but I don’t expect more than an inch or two to accumulate by sundown.  Today’s system will bring cooler air into the Wasatch, so high temperatures may occur during the morning hours.  I expect today’s highs to be in the mid to upper 30’s at 8,000’ and mid 20’s at 10,000’.  Snow showers may linger into the evening, but high pressure is forecast to build in Monday and Tuesday. 


General Information:

For more details on recent avalanche activity call 364-1591.

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.


I 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: