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

Monday, January 6, 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 Monday, January 6, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday a southward moving low pressure system brought snow and wind to the Wasatch Mountains.  During the day the mountains picked up 2 to 3 inches of new snow and about 0.2 inches of water.  Overnight the winds blew from the east in the 15 mph range.  This morning the wind shifted to the southeast in the 25 mph range with gusts near 40 mph.  Along the highest ridge lines the winds have been in the 30 mph with gusts over 50 mph.  Low temperatures last night were near 20 degrees at 8,000’ and in the mid teens at 10,000’.


The snow surface is covered with sun crusts and wind slabs in most locations, but you can still find some dense powder on shady wind sheltered slopes.  The hard surface layers are generally unsupportable on all but very south facing slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Our string of human triggered avalanches continued yesterday.  While walking up the west ridge of Reynolds Peak a skier remotely triggered an avalanche 100’ away on a north-facing slope that was steeper than 35 degrees.  The slide was over 2’ deep and 150’ wide.  There was another remotely triggered avalanche in Daly Canyon on a steep northeast facing slope at 8,500’.  That avalanche was 1 to 2’ deep at 40’ wide.  Two skiers on a west facing subridge of the Silver Fork drainage triggered a slide 1 to 2’ deep and 50’ wide.  This avalanche initially broke just below the skier, but propagated up above him onto a low angle slope.  Fortunately he was able to dig into the bed surface and avoid a potentially nasty ride.  And finally a snowboarder on Little Water Peak triggered an avalanche 1 to 4’ deep and over 100’ wide on a steep northeast facing wind roll.  He was initially caught in the avalanche near it’s flank.  Fortunately he quickly rode off of the slab escaping potentially serious consequences. 


Although there has been no natural avalanche activity reported in the last four days, within the last twenty days there has been a human triggered avalanche reported every day except for one.  Most of these avalanches have been triggered from shallow or rocky areas, and many of them have been triggered remotely.  I hope that this level of activity speaks for itself.  The backcountry avalanche conditions remain quite tricky and very dangerous on northwest through east facing slopes, steeper than 35 degrees and above 8,500’. 


Over the next few days mountain temperatures will be on the rise.  Today wet point release avalanches are possible on steep sun exposed slopes.  As the week continues it may become more difficult to trigger avalanches into old snow from thick areas, but if you hit a thin spot you could trigger a large and dangerous avalanche.


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.  There is a MODERATE danger of wet point release avalanches on steep sun exposed slopes.  By staying on southerly slopes and slopes less than about 30 degrees in steepness you can stay in terrain were the avalanche danger is generally LOW.  


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

The low pressure system that brought us snow yesterday will continue to move to the south today as high pressure builds in from the northwest.  Today, under mostly sunny skies temperatures will rise into the upper 30’s at 8,000’ and to near 30 degrees at 10,000’.  Southeast winds in the 20 mph range this morning, should drop into the 10 mph this afternoon.  High pressure is forecast to bring mild weather to the Wasatch Mountains through mid week, with a weak system moving through on Thursday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying the Dry Fork, Mineral Basin, Sandy Baker Peak, Mill Canyon Peak, and Mary Ellen Gulch areas 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.


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


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

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