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

Friday, January 10, 2003

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Good Morning.  This is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, January 10, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions: 

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.


Avalanche Conditions:

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 – Ogden area mountains). 


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, Park City, Provo and Ogden Area Mountains):

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. 


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

A couple of minor storms will cross northern Utah today and Saturday.  The mountains will have occasional light snow today with additional accumulations of about 2 to 4 inches.  Winds will be 10 to 20 mph from the southwest, shifting to the northwest this evening.  High temperatures will be near 30 at 8,000 feet and in the twenties at 10,000.  Light snow should continue tonight and Saturday morning with storm totals of about a foot in favored locations.  High pressure returns Saturday night with another small storm possible about Tuesday.


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.


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


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: