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


Friday, January 31, 2003

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Good Morning.  This is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, January 31, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.  This advisory is brought to you by our partner, the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, generously supported by Black Diamond Equipment.


Current Conditions: 

This January heat wave continues with overnight temperatures barely below freezing even at 10,000 feet.  Although winds have dropped off a little this morning, they were blowing strongly from the west yesterday and for much of the night.  At the higher elevations the turning and riding conditions yesterday weren’t too awful but below about 8,000 feet, the snow was really sloppy.


 I checked some records this morning:  This January we got third place for low monthly snow totals.  January 1961 had only 1” at Alta.  January 1945 had 19 inches.  This year we got 26 inches.  In the valley this is the second warmest January on record.  January 1953 had a mean temperature of 39 degrees.  This year it was 38 degrees.


Avalanche Conditions:

Avalanche activity yesterday was confined to the surface snow at higher elevations with soft slabs breaking up to about 8 inches deep on steep slopes where the strong winds were drifting this week’s bit of fresh snow.  Some of these slides released naturally from cornice falls and a couple were human triggered, one in the Powder Mountain backcountry near Ogden and one in Mill-D north.  Cornices were building out and were very sensitive along windy ridges.  The soft slabs were also quite sensitive in places and were breaking wide, up to a couple of hundred feet.  Fortunately, they were also rather shallow, mostly about 3 to 6 inches deep.


The snow conditions yesterday were distinctly different on either side of the freezing level, which varied between about 8,000 and 9,000 feet.  Below this line the snow was wet but fairly solid, although I was able to push off a few shallow loose snow sluffs.  Above the freezing line the dry snow was drifting and reacting as sensitive soft slabs.  Thus the avalanche danger increased rather suddenly with elevation and may have been CONSIDERABLE above 10,000 feet along wind exposed ridges.


There are photos and a crown profile of Tuesday’s Square Top slide on the web at www.avalanche.org, click on Salt Lake and then on Advisories.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE above 9,000 feet (8,000 – Ogden) on slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper, with fresh wind drifts.  Winds are still strong above 11,000 feet and the danger is greater at the highest elevations.  With a marginal freeze last night and 8,000 foot temperatures getting into the forties today, along with more sunshine, the danger of wet slides will increase to MODERATE ( CONSIDERABLEOgden ) as the day warms up.


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


Mountain Weather:

Skies will be mostly sunny today but with high clouds.  High temperatures will be near 40 degrees at 8,000 feet and in the mid thirties at 10,000.  Ridge top winds will be 10 to 20 mph from the west.  On Saturday clouds and wind will increase ahead of a hopefully decent storm arriving Saturday night.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in Silver Fork, Days and Cardiff drainages, with a home run in White Pine.


The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, supported by Voile and Milosport, are offering an intensive three-day avalanche class February 15 – 17.  Half of the spots are reserved for snowboarders.  To sign up call the Black Diamond retail store at 801-278-0233.  


This Sunday, February 2nd, there will be a fundraiser for the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue avalanche dog program.  Tickets are available at the Black Diamond retail store.  Please call 435-615-2226 for more information and additional ticket locations. 


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.


Evelyn Lees 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: