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

 

Sunday, February 16, 2003

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Good Morning. This is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory. Today is Sunday, February 16, 2003, and its 7:30 in the morning.

 

I am saddened to report there was a backcountry avalanche fatality yesterday, and we at the center extend our sympathy to the family and friends of the victim. The slide was on the northwest face of Gobblers Knob, and preliminary information indicates the slide was about 100 wide and broke 1 to 1 feet deep, into old facets. As the slide moved down the slope, it broke out wider, to around 300 wide. The victim was in the slide from the top, and the total vertical was about 1,500. A staff member will be looking at the slide this morning, and as I get more details, Ill update the 364-1591 line.

 

Current Conditions:

A Pacific cold front is rapidly approaching northern Utah, with frontal passage expected mid afternoon. Ahead of the front, the southerly winds have increased, and are averaging 25 to 40 mph across the ridges, with gusts in the 40s and 50s. Temperatures are warming, and are currently in the low 20s at 10,000. The snow surface is a mix of breakable sun crusts and wind damage, with areas of soft powder limited to sheltered, shady slopes above about 9,000.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

The avalanche danger is rising today. The strong winds have created fresh dense wind drifts along the ridges, and cross loaded snow around terrain features such as gully walls and rock sub ridges. The high wind speeds may load snow into odd places and lower down slope than normal. These new drifts and cornices will be sensitive to the weight of a person, and break out on steep slopes. A slide breaking out in a new wind drift has the potential to trigger a deeper, larger slide as it moves down slope.

 

Below about 9,000, the recent snow has bonded poorly to a slick rain crust buried a couple inches down. At mid and lower low elevations, isolated pockets of wind slab could be triggered on steep slopes that get loaded from the strong winds.

 

Wet sluffs are still possible at the low and mid elevations, especially if we get more rain than expected before the cold air arrives. Remember that point-release avalanches can be particularly dangerous if they push you off a cliff or into a gulley.

 

And finally, there continue to be places where a person could trigger an avalanche that breaks in the deeper snow on northwest through east facing slopes, steeper than 35 degrees, in areas above 9,000. These deep slab avalanches could also be triggered by smaller surface-snow avalanches.

 

The upper portions of the Provo Area Mountains probably received more snow this past week 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 MODERATE today on any steep slope with recent wind drifts, and will rise to CONSIDERABLE later today and tonight with the additional wind and snow expected. 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:

A Pacific cold front will arrive in northern Utah around mid afternoon. Ahead of the front, the strong, southwesterly winds will continue, averaging 30 to 40 mph across the ridges, with gusts 50 to 70 mph. Highs today will be in the low 30s at 8,000 and the mid 20s at 10,000. Light rain or snow ahead of the front will turn to snow behind the front. The heaviest snowfall will be from frontal passage into the early evening hours, with 5 to 8 expected. A cool, westerly flow will be over northern Utah on Monday, with snow possible again on Tuesday and Thursday.

 

General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will probably not be flying today due to weather. If they do get out, they will be in Snake Creek and American Fork.

 

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

 

Thanks for calling!

________________________________________________________________________

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm