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 19, 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 19, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions: 

Last night the skies were clear and temperatures dipped into the low 20’s at 5,000’, 8,000’, and 10,000’.  The winds have been from the west and northwest in the 20 mph range along the highest ridgelines and in the 10 mph range at mid-elevation levels.


The snow surface is a mix of wind slabs and sun crusts, but you can still find some soft recrystalized snow in sheltered areas.


Avalanche Conditions:

Over the last week we have had fairly mild temperatures, a little bit of snow, and plenty of wind.  This weather pattern has allowed the snowpack to stabilize, and in many locations you have a better chance of hitting a buried rock or log than triggering an avalanche.


Unfortunately our shallow snowpack is also quite weak, and the same loose sugary snow that allows you to sink to the ground low in the drainage is buried under harder layers higher up.  Last week strong winds formed very hard slabs on top of this weak snow, and these wind slabs are our biggest avalanche concern today.  Wind slabs have a smooth appearance and sound hollow as you move across them.  You probably have to be on a fairly steep slope to trigger one, but since they are made of very dense snow they can be quite dangerous.  Yesterday a group in Red Pine was able to trigger two of these slabs on small slopes.  Since their active stability tests produced avalanches on test slopes, they decided to avoid the bigger slabs higher in the drainage.


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

There is a MODERATE avalanche danger of triggering a wind slab on any steep wind loaded slope.  Look out for these slabs on the sides of gullies and subridges as well as major terrain features.  There is also still a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on northwest, north, and northeast facing slopes above 8,500’ that are about 40 degrees and steeper.  On slopes less than about 35 degrees in steepness the avalanche danger is generally LOW. 


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


Mountain Weather:

High pressure over the western U.S. will bring mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies to the Wasatch today.  The winds will be from the northwest in the 10 mph range most of the day.  Along the highest ridgelines the winds could remain in the 20 mph range through mid day.  Temperatures will rise to near 40 degrees at 8,000’ and into the upper 20’s at 10,000’.  For Monday we should see continued mild temperatures and moderate northwest winds.  A weak short-wave trough is forecast to move through northern Utah on Tuesday.



General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying two helicopters in the American Fork drainage today.


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: