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 15, 2003

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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 15, 2003, and its 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

The Grinch that Stole Winter was back in Utah last night. Hes left us measuring the snow by flakes this morning, not inches. And any lingering hopes for measurable snow are fading fast, as the remnants of the weak weather system race to our east. Temperatures are almost 10 degrees cooler than yesterday morning, in the upper teens to mid 20s. Winds are from the west to northwest, and have recently increased, and are now averaging 20 to 30 mph, with gusts near 40. Along the most exposed ridgelines, they are blasting averaging 50 mph with gusts in the 70s.


Theres still some soft dense powder on very sheltered slopes, but its becoming increasingly difficult to find among the widespread wind and sun crusts.


Avalanche Conditions:

Several episodes of strong winds over the past couple days, including the current stiff northwesterly flow, have created localized areas of hard, cracky wind slabs. These drifts will easily fracture under the weight of a person on steep slopes. While these drifts are fairly shallow, they are definitely large enough to knock you off your feet and take you for a ride. Todays strong winds will increase the extent and depth of these drifts. Sluffs in the weak surface snow also have enough punch to take a person for a ride on a continuously steep slope.


Digging deeper into the snowpack shows those rotten faceted layers are still down there. Several recent reports of collapsing and a small slide ski cut on Sunday indicate there are still localized areas where a person could trigger a slide on the more deeply buried facets. Such a slide would have serious consequences, most definitely deep and wide enough to bury you.


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 9,000 that are steeper than 35 degrees. Steep slopes with recent wind deposits also have a MODERATE avalanche danger, and will be more widespread today. On south facing slopes and slopes less than steep than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Western Uintas call 1-800-648-7433


Mountain Weather:

The dying remains of a Pacific weather system have brought overcast skies and light snow to the mountains this morning. The snow should be a short lived morning event, with skies becoming partly cloudy by this afternoon. Highs will be in the upper 20s at 8,000 and the upper teens at 10,000. The moderate to strong, blustery northwesterly winds will be more persistent, averaging 20 to 30 mph across most ridges, and 40 to 50 mph across the highest peaks and most exposed ridgelines. The high pressure ridge will rebuild along the west coast today, keeping a generally dry northerly flow over the area through the end of the week.


General Information:

Weather permitting, Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying one group this afternoon. Depending on the winds, they will be in upper Silver and Cardiff drainages, with a home run in Grizzly or White Pine or at lower elevations in American Fork.


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: