Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Friday, January 17, 2003

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Good Morning and a Happy 50th Birthday to the Wizard of the Wasatch!  This is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, January 17, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions: 

Brisk northerly winds cranked during the night, hitting 30 to 40 mph on the highest peaks, with gusts to 60.  At 10,000 feet they are 10 to 20 mph, with gusts to 30.  Temperatures are in the upper teens and low twenties.  Many slopes have sun and wind crusts and lots of old tracks.  Still, clever snooping can be rewarded by good settled powder on out-of-the-way slopes sheltered from sun and wind.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday I found that the drifts from Wednesday’s winds had mostly settled into place, showing only isolated cracking.  Last night’s wind will have produced a fresh batch of drifts but the limited amount of loose snow for the wind to blow around will keep most of these drifts fairly shallow.  Be alert today for the smooth, rounded deposits, especially if snow is cracking under your weight.  Avoid the area if the drifts are deep or if the consequences of taking a ride are unpleasant.  The fresh drifts will be on a variety of aspects but especially south and east facing slopes.  They will be cross drifted around terrain features and well off the ridgelines in some areas.  A small slide may be able to trigger a larger avalanche in the deeper weak layers.  A few natural avalanches are possible off corniced ridges on the highest peaks of the range.


There are still localized areas where a person could trigger a deeper slide in weak layers near the ground.  Paradoxically, these deeper slides are more likely to be triggered in places where the snow pack is relatively shallow. 


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

There is a MODERATE avalanche danger on any steep slope with recent wind deposits. There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east, above about 8,500’ that approach about 40 degrees steepness.  On southerly facing slopes without recent wind deposits and slopes less than steep than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is LOW. 


Bottom Line (Provo Area Mountains):

There is a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger on steep downwind slopes along the highest peaks and ridges, especially at upper elevations above timberline. There is also 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 without recent deposits wind deposits and slopes less than steep than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is generally LOW. 


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433 for weekend and holiday forecasts.


Mountain Weather:

A ridge of high pressure will give the Wasatch a mostly dry northerly flow into the weekend.  The north and northwesterly winds will gradually decrease to around 15 to 25 mph today.  Highs will be in the 20’s at 10,000 feet and the low 30’s at 8,000.  Skies will be partly cloudy today and clear tonight with lows in the teens and low twenties.  The weekend looks mostly clear and sunny.  The next chance for measurable snow is perhaps the middle of next week.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in Silver, Cardiff and Day’s Forks with a home run in White Pine.


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: