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, February 14, 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, February 14, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions: 

With all of this winter’s strange weather, I feel like I’m working for that newspaper column “The News of the Weird!”  Yesterday, it felt more like Ashland, Oregon than the Wasatch.  At least the current heat wave is moderating a little; this morning temperatures are about 5 degrees cooler than yesterday, with most mountain stations in the mid to upper twenties.  The freezing level is at about 7,000 feet.  There is a couple of inches of dense new snow above 8,000 feet.  Winds appear to be light from west but I expect some of the anemometers are rimed and may not be giving accurate readings. 


As you can imagine, there are some rather horrid snow surface conditions out there but I also found patches of thick powder in areas above about 8,500’ that are sheltered from the wind and sun.


Avalanche Conditions:

Prowling around the mountains yesterday the snow pack felt limp to me, as if it was finally sick of being jerked around by the recent abrupt changes in the weather; first warm, then cold, then back to warm again.  Now it’s back to cooling off.  Generally, avalanche workers consider warmth followed by cold to be a good sign of increasing stability and I think that is likely to be the case today.  The most probable avalanche activity today will be involving today’s new snow and unless more than we expect, that won’t be a big deal.  We also can’t quite forget the buried weak layers that have made this an excessively exciting winter.  Slides in the surface snow could step down into deeper layers and there is still a possibility of a slide initiating in those deeper layers.  Another place you could get in trouble would be along the upper elevation ridges and gullies where there are wind drifts of varying age sitting on very weak faceted snow.  The most likely place to trigger a deeper slide is on a very steep rocky slope that typically has a shallow snowpack or in an area that has avalanched previously this season.


Below 7 or 8 thousand feet where the precipitation has been rain, there is also a chance of wet slides, mostly on northerly facing slopes.


The danger is greater in the Ogden and Provo Mountains which have received more rain and new snow.


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

On many slopes, the avalanche danger is generally isolated or LOW this morning.  (MODERATEOgden Mountains)  (CONSIDERABLEProvo Mountains at and above Timberline)   The danger may increase to MODERATE in wind drifted areas if new snow accumulations get up to about 6 inches later today.   There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering an avalanche into deeper weak layers on northwest, north, northeast and easterly facing slopes, steeper than about 35 degrees and above about 9,000 feet.


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


Mountain Weather:

The wet weather will continue today with light snow and rain.  The snow line will be gradually dropping to about 6,000 feet.  A slightly stronger impulse may arrive late this afternoon or evening that could put down several inches of snow in the mountains but accumulations will probably total only about 4 inches.  There will be a chance of lightning this afternoon.  Winds will be 10 to 20 from the west northwest.  Highs today will be near 30 degrees at 8,000 feet and in the twenties at 10,000.


Saturday should be partly cloudy with very strong southerly winds developing Saturday night and another storm arriving Sunday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will probably not be flying today but if weather permits they may do a flight into White Pine.


The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center are offering an intensive three-day avalanche class February 15 – 17.    A generous donation by Voile and Milosport helps make this class affordable at $125.  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, remember that the information you have could save someone’s life.  Please leave a message on our answer machine at (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.


Ethan Greene 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: