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

Sunday, January 12, 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 Sunday, January 12, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions: 

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the mountains.  Blue skies in the morning gave way to clouds and light snow in the afternoon.  Last night under mostly clear skies temperatures dipped into the mid teens at 8,000’ and upper teens at 10,000’.  The winds have generally been from the west in the 10 to 15 mph range, and there is a trace of new snow.


The snow surface is a mix of new snow and surface facets.  There was enough sunshine yesterday morning to form crusts on most south and east facing slopes.  The snowpack is generally supportable above about 8,000’.


Avalanche Conditions:

After an amazing streak of human triggered avalanches, the backcountry seemed pretty quiet yesterday.  There were a lot of people out enjoying the new snow, and a few folks ventured into the steeper terrain without incident.  Over the last week we had a few days with very warm temperatures and now temperatures have become more winter-like, at least at night.  This combination seemed to be just the ticket to put a lid on our three week avalanche cycle.  However, just like last year the weakness that produced a long string of human triggered avalanches remains buried in our snowpack.  And just like last year the next loading event or sharp temperature change could kick our lingering avalanche cycle back into high gear.


For today the chances of triggering a deep slab avalanche have decreased but still remain.  On steep northerly and east facing slopes above about 8,500’ there are slabs 2 to 4 feet deep resting on very weak faceted snow.  This scenario can lure you into complicity by allowing several people to travel across a slope without incident before one of them triggers a large avalanche.  And of course the consequences of triggering a deep slab avalanche can always be severe.


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

Today there is a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east, above about 8,500’ that are steeper than 35 degrees.  On south facing slopes and slopes less steep than about 30 degrees, which are not connected to steeper slopes, the avalanche danger is generally LOW. 


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

A ridge of high pressure is building in behind the short-wave trough that brought snow to the Wasatch yesterday.  Today a moist westerly flow will bring mild temperatures and moderate winds to the mountains.  Clouds will be increasing during the day and periods of light snow are possible.  Along the highest ridgelines, winds will be from the west in the 15 to 20 mph range.  Temperatures will rise into the low 30’s at 8,000’ and to near 20 degrees at 10,000’.  Monday’s weather should be similar with a slightly better chance for snow.  Our best chance for measurable precipitation will be Tuesday night when a weak cold front is forecast to move through northern Utah.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will in the American Fork drainage today.  They will be flying in the Sandy Baker Pass, Mary Ellen, Mineral Basin, and Mill Canyon Peak areas.


Monday night at 5:30 the Alta Community Enrichment Story Telling Series will be on Snow Science and Avalanche Safety.  Stop by the Our Lady of the Snows Center to hear Peter Lev, Liam Fitzgerald, Rick Wyatt, Bill Harrison, and others tell stories of avalanches in the Wasatch.


Someone did find a pair of skis and poles across from Solitude on New Year’s 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.


I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: