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

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

If you want this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day for free, click HERE.

If you want recent archives of this advisory, click HERE.

To e-mail us an observation, CLICK HERE.

To see cool photos of recent avalanche activity CLICK HERE (Updated 1-7-03)

To see a list of recent avalanches, CLICK HERE,  (Updated 1-7-03)

To see a graphic of recent snowpack conditions CLICK HERE, (Updated 1-7-03)


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 08, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions: 

It was so warm last night, it’s down right scary.  Temperatures are in the mid 30’s at both 10 and 11,000’ this morning, following highs yesterday in the mid 40’s.  The only spots that dipped below freezing are the stations down in the valley bottoms, such as the Spruces in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Winds are generally less than 15 mph, from a southerly direction.


Widespread wind and sun damage make it difficult to find any soft snow, but a few patches exist on sheltered shady slopes at mid and upper elevations.


Avalanche Conditions:

What could be the longest continuous string of human triggered slides in Utah continued with out a break yesterday.  A person in the east branch of Butler Fork was carefully stomping along the ridge, and remotely triggered a slide below him on a 35 degree, north facing slope.  The slide was over 300’ wide, 2 feet deep and ran about 150’.   Another slide was unintentionally triggered in one of the north facing chutes off Pioneer ridge.  Confined by a gully, it was about 40’ wide and long running.  Of interest, this chute was skied just a few days ago without incident, which is similar to the Monday Cardiff Fork slide that was also on a previously skied slope.


While there may only be a moderate number of places one can trigger a slide today, the consequences of getting caught in a slide remain considerable or even fatal.  Northwestern Wyoming has a very similar snowpack with faceted weak layers, and had two fatalities over the weekend.  If people in Utah continue to trigger slides, it is only a matter of time before we have a fatality, too.  Plain and simple, you do not want to be caught in one of these ugly slides.  There are decent turning conditions on low angle slopes, and ridges are a great way to cruise the backcountry on sightseeing tours.


Yesterday’s very warm temperatures, followed by a nonfreezing night may also increase the instability today.  Wet, loose sluffs could occur on steep slopes of all aspects today, and these sluffs may be able to pull out larger slabs.  These unusually warm temperatures are just another reason to take one more step back from the steep slopes today. 


Check out the great information on our web site - for a complete list of avalanches, click HERE.  For photos, click HERE. 

For a graphic of the snowpack click HERE.


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, especially on slopes that have not slid recently.  This means that human triggered avalanches are probable and you should probably avoid slopes like this.  There is a MODERATE danger of wet point-release avalanches on steep sun exposed slopes.  If you want LOW avalanche danger, simply stay on slopes less steep than 30 degrees, which are not connected to steeper slopes above. 


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

The high pressure parked over us will slowly weaken today and Thursday, allowing for somewhat cooler temperatures.  Highs today will be in the upper 30’s at 10,000’, and in the low to mid 40’s at 8,000’.  Winds will shift to the west today and increase into the 15 to 25 mph range across the higher ridges.  Tonight will be clear and slightly cooler, with below freezing temperatures at most elevations.  Thursday will still be warm, with increasing clouds late.  A weak Pacific storm system will affect the area starting Thursday night and linger into Saturday, bringing a chance for light snow.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will not be flying clients 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 Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: