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

Saturday, January 11, 2003

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Good Morning.This is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Saturday, January 11, 2003, and itís 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Itís clear up above the fog this morning, so this would be a great day to get out in the mountains.With no new snow overnight, there was 3-4 inches of new snow that fell Thursday night and yesterday morning in most of the Wasatch Range with 5-8 inches in upper Little Cottonwood and its perimeter. ††The rain-snow line was around 7,000 feet. This has given us a much-needed freshening up of the snow conditions.Northerly, wind sheltered slopes have some nice, soft snow underneath and skiing and boarding conditions are actually pretty good, especially on gentle slopes, for instance, in gladed, northerly facing aspen trees.South facing slopes have dust on supportable crust. Snowmobiling off trail is still a bit tricky in much of northern Utah as you sometimes bog down into the layers of buried depth hoar in the shallow snowpack areas and you need to get up to high elevations to find decent cover.


Avalanche Conditions:

After our record-setting avalanche cycle over the past 3 Ĺ weeks with 62 unintentional human triggered avalanches in the backcountry, itís a huge relief to go three days now without any reports of avalanches in the backcountry.A week ago, you felt big, booming collapses everywhere you went and it was hard to isolate columns in snowpit tests.Yesterday, I felt almost no collapsing and out of a couple dozen tests in five different snowpits, all my columns were failing with medium-force compressions.In plain English, this means that the extremely brittle layers of faceted snow, now buried a couple feet deep, are finally starting to adjust to their load.The new snow probably doesnít weigh enough to change this, but there was some very localized places where the wind piled the new snow into sensitive wind drifts along the highest wind-exposed ridges.


This certainly doesnít mean that you have license to jump into steep slopes with abandon, it just means the chance of triggering avalanches today is more localized instead of widespread, as it was last week.However, avalanche danger equals probability times consequences. With the weak layer buried at least a couple feet deep, there may be a moderate probability of triggering an avalanche, but the consequences are considerable.To put this in perspective, a typical avalanche you might trigger today would have about the same weight and velocity as freeway pileup of 200 suvís, and youíre in the middle of it on a bicycle.If youíre feeling lucky and just have to jump into a steep, northerly facing slope today, here are some hot tips:Carry rescue gear, go one at a time and use a belay rope.These past three weeks, I have carried my rope with me nearly every day and Iíve used it a lot.It has saved me many grey hairs through the years, but unfortunately, it hasnít prevented me from loosing them.Iím quite certain that there will be at least a couple people who will get caught in avalanches this weekend. Despite dozens of close calls, there have been no fatalities in Utah this season and only you can keep it that way.


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

The probability of triggering an avalanche today is MODERATE but the consequences are CONSIDERABLE on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east, above about 8,500í approaching 35 degrees or steeper. Itís not dangerous everywhere.Thereís a LOW avalanche danger on south facing slopes and slopes less steep than 30 degrees, which are not connected to steeper slopes above.


Western Uintas Ė call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

Itís clear up above the valley fog this morning but there is a weak band of snow on the west side of the lake that should bring a couple more inches of snow to areas south of Provo today and areas to the north should remain clear to partly cloudy.Ridge top winds should remain light today, generally under 10 mph from the west with ridge top temperatures in the mid 20ís.8,000í temperatures should warm up to around 30 today with overnight lows in the teens.We should have clearing on Sunday with stronger winds southwest winds on Sunday night and about the same temperatures.For the extended forecast, it looks like a weak system brushing by and going mostly north of us on about Tuesday, but otherwise, we still see no significant precipitation in our forecast for the next 10-15 days.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly clients in upper and mid Silver Fork and Cardiff Fork with a couple runs in White Pine and a home run in Grizzly Gulch.

Someone did find a pair of skis and poles across from Solitude on New Yearís Day.To claim them, call Loraine at 485-5141.


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.


Ethan Greene will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling!



National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: