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


Monday, February 03, 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 Monday, February 03, 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 Uinta Brewing Company.


Current Conditions: 

The Snow Miser made a brief visit to the Wasatch yesterday.  Snowfall rates tapered off yesterday afternoon in most locations, but the upper portions of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon picked up about 8 inches of snow overnight, and about 5 inches accumulated along Park City Ridgeline.


Storm totals are 20 to 25 inches of snow and up to 1.5” water in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, 14 inches of snow and 1.5” water along the Park City Ridgeline, and 5 to 7 inches of snow in the Ogden and Provo Area Mountains.


It is still snowing lightly in some mountain areas.  Mountains temperatures continue to fall and this morning they are in the mid teens at 8,000’ and in the upper single digits at 10,000’.  The winds have been from the northwest in the 10 to 15 mph range.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday we got the huff, puff, and the fluff.  Reports from the backcountry indicate that the winds were moving a lot of snow along the higher ridgelines, but in many low and mid elevation areas it was calm and the wind load remained minor.  Below about 9,000’ the old snow was wet, but with relatively low density snow and negligible wind loading the avalanche danger was minor.  There were three remotely triggered avalanches reported from areas above 9,000’.  A skier on a northeast facing portion of Reynolds Peak triggered a slab avalanche over 1 foot deep and 50 feet wide (photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, check out the dirt layer!).  This avalanche released from an area that slid in December.  It broke down into faceted snow that formed in November taking out both the new snow and the wind load from last week.  There were also two remotely triggered avalanches in the George’s Bowl area.  The slides were 50 to several hundred feet wide and were triggered on steep northeast aspects.


Today there are a few avalanche issues to keep in mind while you’re out in the backcountry.  First is the wind load.  During the last 24-hours winds have been strong enough to transport snow.  Today you may find localized areas were fresh wind drifts are sensitive to the weight of a person.  Look out for recent wind drifts on steep southeast and easterly slopes.  Second, you may still be able to trigger a deep slab avalanche in areas there the snowpack remained relatively thin and week during our dry spell.  These areas are generally northeast, north, and northwest facing slopes, over 35 degrees, and above 9,000’.  Avalanche paths that slid during the late December avalanche cycle may repeat.  And third in most areas the wet snow is now frozen, but there is a possibility that the new snow may be more sensitive today on steep slopes that were wet yesterday (if you’re stuck at work this morning check out a recent paper on this subject).


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

There is a localized or MODERATE danger of triggering a recent wind slab avalanche in exposed upper elevation areas.   There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering an avalanche into deeper weak layers on northeast through northwest slopes steeper than 35 degrees that are above 9,000’.  Below about 9,000’ the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


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


Mountain Weather:

A ridge of high pressure will bring partly cloudy skies, moderate winds, and continued cold temperatures to the Wasatch Mountains today.  High temperatures will be near 20 degrees 8,000’ and near 10 degrees at 10,000’.  The wind will shift from the northwest to the west during the day and remain in the 10 to 15 mph range.  The next storm system is approaching from the north.  The cloud cover and wind speed will increase this evening and snow showers are likely tonight and tomorrow.  The bulk of this system will remain north of Utah, but we should get 2 to 4 inches overnight and a few more on Tuesday.  


General Information:

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


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.  


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 Tuesday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: