Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory


Saturday, February 15, 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 Saturday, February 15, 2003, and itís 7:30 in the morning.We would like to acknowledge one of our partners, the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, generously supported by the Uinta Brewing Company.


Current Conditions:

Our not-winter continued last night with an inch or two of new snow with a tenth to a quarter inch of water.As of yesterday afternoon the rain/snow line was near 7,000í.Overnight temperatures dipped into the mid 20ís at 8,000í and upper teens at 10,000í.The winds have been from the northwest in the 10 mph range in most areas.Along the high ridgelines the winds have been in the 20 mph range with gusts over 40 mph.


The snow surface is a mix of firm crusts and damp powder under a few spongy inches of fresh snow.


Avalanche Conditions:

While itís been a bit dreary in the mountains the past few days, we did pickup a bit of snow and a fair amount of water.Storm totals appear to be around one inch of water at most locations.In the Salt Lake Area Mountains that translated into 6 to 8 inches of snow, but in the Ogden, Provo and Park City Area Mountains 3 to 4 inches of snow accumulated.Early in the storm the rain/snow line was above 8,000í, but early Friday morning it dropped to about 7,000í.


If the snow felt like a wet noodle on Thursday itís more like a frozen wet noodle this morning.Temperatures have been cooling over the past two days, and with overnight lows in the mid 20ís I suspect the snow is frozen at most locations.Even though we havenít had much of a winter, we still have a few avalanche issues to keep in mind today.


First and foremost is the sun.Although the new snow is not the greatest snow on earth, if it gets a good shot of sun wet sluffs or point releases are likely.Remember that point-release avalanches are especially dangerous if they can push you off a cliff or into a gulley.Second is the wind.We still have some hard wind slabs that formed earlier in the week.Although they are mostly stable, I have been tiptoeing around them for the past few days.The most likely place to trigger a wind slab is a steep rocky area that generally has a shallow snowpack or in an area that avalanched earlier in the season.Lastly there is an isolated chance of triggering an avalanche that will break down into the deeper snow.These deep slab avalanches could be triggered by smaller surface-snow avalanches on northwest through east facing slopes, steeper than 35 degrees, in areas above 9,000í.


The upper portions of the Provo Area Mountains probably received more snow and the avalanche danger may be higher in the steep rocky areas.


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

The avalanche danger is generally isolated or LOW this morning, but may increase to MODERATE as the sun heats the new snow during the day.With low clouds heating could occur on all aspects.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 and on very steep rocky slopes with hard wind deposits.


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


Mountain Weather:

The Pacific storm system that bought us warm and wet weather for the past few days is moving off to the east.Today high pressure will build in over northern Utah bringing light winds and a brief break in the cloud cover.Skies will become partly cloudy during the day.Temperatures will rise into the upper 30ís at 8,000í and mid 20ís at 10,000í.Along the high ridgelines the winds will decrease into the 10 mph range as they shift to the southwest.Tonight southwest winds will increase into the 25 mph range as the next Pacific system approaches.Snow showers will begin overnight in the mountains, and I expect 3 to 6 inches by late Sunday night.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying around the clouds today.Their plans are weather dependent but they may be in the Cardiff, Days, Silver, American Fork, Snake Creek, and Mill Creek drainages with home runs in Grizzly Gulch and White Pine.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, remember that the information you have could save someoneís 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.


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: