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Good Morning. This is Tom Kimbrough with the
Thank Goodness! There is a little fresh snow to report this morning! At dawn the Cottonwoods have 3 to 6 inches of new snow, with 2 to 4 in other parts of the range. Mountain temperatures are in the twenties. Winds are 10 to 20 mph over the ridges from the southwest. The rather spotty turning conditions will begin to improve as this additional snow adds up and I expect snowmobiling and snowshoeing conditions will also be better with this bit new snow.
For the second day in a row there
were no reports of slides triggered in the backcountry yesterday, ending our
exceptionally long run of avalanche activity.
While this decrease in activity is partly due to the increasing strength
of the snow pack, it is also probably due to a decrease in the number of people
out in the backcountry. Yesterday I did
snow pit tests on a slope in upper Big Cottonwood that I had checked last
week. My results indicated that the snow
pack had indeed gained strength; it was significantly less sensitive to compression
and Rutschblock tests yesterday. On the
other hand, as we traversed a nearby low angle slope we had a large collapse
with a crack that shot about 50 feet across the slope. If the slope had been steeper, I’m sure it
would have avalanched. Are these results
contradictory? I don’t think so. While the places where a person can trigger a
slide are decreasing, there remain plenty of spots that are still
sensitive. Additionally, although it may
be a little harder to trigger a slide, the potentially fatal consequences remain
just as serious. The current complex
conditions make it very difficult to assess and evaluate the stability for a
specific slope. The stronger pack may
let you get father out onto the slope before releasing well above you and may
hold in place for several skiers or riders, then release when a later person
hits a more sensitive spot on the slope.
All of the above refers to the weak layers deep in the snow pack, especially
on west, north and east facing slopes of around 35 degrees and steeper and
above about 9,000 feet (8,000 feet –
Today’s new snow must also be taken into account. As accumulations build today, the avalanche danger from the new snow will also increase, especially along upper elevation ridges and gullies that are exposed to the wind. Yesterday’s snow surface was quite weak on many slopes and won’t support much additional weight. Expect sensitive drifts up to about a foot deep in windy areas, possibly becoming deeper by afternoon that can slide on slopes of 35 degrees and steeper. Slides in the new snow may step down in the deeper weak layers, creating larger and more dangerous avalanches. The new snow will also make stability evaluation of the deeper layers a little more difficult and as the new snow builds up, the deep layers may return to their previous more sensitive condition.
Bottom Line (SLC,
The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east, above about 8,500’ and about 35 degrees or steeper. However, within this terrain, there are pockets of CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger, where human triggered avalanches are probable. If new snow accumulations approach a foot in depth, the areas of CONSIDERABLE danger will become more widespread. LOW avalanche danger exists on slopes less steep than 30 degrees, which are not connected to steeper slopes above.
A couple of minor storms will
The Friends of the Utah
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 on Saturday morning.
Thanks for calling!
For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: