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


Saturday, February 08, 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 Saturday, February 08, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.  We would like to acknowledge one of our partners, the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, generously supported by Uinta Brewing Company.


Current Conditions: 

It isn’t a heat wave but mountain temperatures are now about 5 degrees warmer than at this time yesterday, with most stations a little above zero at dawn.  Winds are light from the northeast.  After a week of the best turning and riding conditions of the winter, the sun is starting to crust southerly facing slopes and there is a little wind damage in exposed upper elevation terrain.  Lots of popular slopes are tracked now but there is still plenty of delightfully fluffy powder.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday I was thinking that the snow was starting to gain some stability after a scary series of human triggered avalanches this week.  Today I am rethinking that idea…. Yesterday there were at least three close calls:  A total burial near Twin Lakes Pass, involving a visiting ski patroller; one near the Raymond Glades in the Mill Creek drainage; and one on Gobblers Knob.  There were also three slides from backcountry explosive testing, one in Alexander Basin and two in Mineral Fork.  All of these slides were large, 60 to a couple of hundred feet wide, breaking into old snow, sometimes to the ground.  The Twin Lakes slide released after it was ski cut and the Gobblers slide was remotely triggered after several people had skied the slope.  I’ll put details on these slides on the 364-1591 line.


All week the avalanche activity has been quite consistent: Hard slabs breaking up to a foot or more beneath the dirty layer from last Saturday’s west desert dust storm.  This is the layer that was on the surface through most of January.  Others are breaking in depth hoar near the ground.  Most of these slides were in places that had already avalanched previously this season and thus have a relatively thin snowpack.  They were all at higher elevations and were on northwest through east facing slopes.  Most can be characterized as steep rocky places.  There is a lot of conjecture among the local avalanche workers as to just what is going on in the snow pack.  It is possible that the combination of the tropical temperatures of a week ago and this week’s arctic cold has produced temperature differences in the snow pack that are contributing to the long lasting instabilities.  It is even possible that that in places the snow pack weaknesses are increasing.  What we do know for sure is that the avalanche activity is continuing and that these slides are tricky and very dangerous hard slabs breaking two or more feet deep and involving a lot of snow.  If you are getting out this weekend carry avalanche rescue gear and use all of your safe travel skills:  One at a time on the slope and get out of the way at the bottom.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees that face northwest, north, northeast and east and are above about 9,000 feet (Ogden – MODERATE above 8,500).  Dangerous human triggered avalanches are possible in these areas.  I expect the cold temperatures will keep the sun from starting any wet slides but if the snow does get moist, the danger will rise on southerly facing slopes.  On slopes less steep than 35 degrees, at lower elevations and on south facing slopes that are not getting wet, the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


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


Mountain Weather:

It will be another beautiful but cold winter morning with increasing clouds in the afternoon.  High temperatures will only get into the teens at 8,000 feet and will be around 10 degrees at 10,000.  Winds will be light from the northeast.  A weak disturbance crossing Wyoming will bring us some clouds this afternoon and tonight with possibly a few flakes of snow on Sunday.  High pressure and warmer temperatures return on Monday. 


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will have two ships today, one in the Bountiful Sessions and Lambs Canyon and another in Days, Cardiff and Silver Forks with homeruns in White Pine.


We will be giving a free avalanche awareness talk at Milo Sport on Wednesday, February 12th at 7:00 pm.  They are on 3300 South and 3119 East.


The Banff Film Festival is coming to Kingsbury Hall February 12th and 13th, with proceeds donated to the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center.  For ticket information, call 581-8516. 


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.


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: