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


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Avalanche advisory


Sunday, March 02, 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 Sunday, March 02, 2003, and its 7:30 in the morning. We would like to acknowledge one of our partners, the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, generously supported by Alta Ski Lifts.


Current Conditions:

Overnight under mostly to partly cloudy skies, temperatures dropped below 10 degrees at both 8,000 and 10,000. The winds have been 10 mph or less from the west and southwest. Storm totals from yesterday are 4 to 8 inches of snow and about 0.3 water in the Salt Lake Area Mountains, and 10 inches of snow and 0.3 water in the Ogden and Provo Area Mountains.


This morning the old snow surface is covered by some very nice and low density new snow and reports from the backcountry indicate that the turning conditions are dreamy.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday was a classic Utah day with light winds, temperatures in the mid 20s, and a steady stream of low density snow falling from the sky. The new snow fell on some weak surface facets and on most aspects it sluffed easily off the steeper slopes. There was both natural and human triggered avalanche activity reported from the backcountry. In the Salt Lake and Provo Area Mountains the avalanches were generally loose snow, or sluff avalanches. There were several natural avalanches in the Provo Area Mountains. Most were loose snow avalanches, but in one case a sluff avalanche triggered a deep slab avalanche on a steep northerly slope. In the Ogden Area Mountains large surface hoar that formed Thursday and Friday evenings created a nice weak layer and in addition to sluff avalanches there were reports of very sensitive and widespread soft slab slides.


Today it will still be easy to trigger sluff and some soft slab avalanches on all aspects, and I expect to see natural avalanche activity on the steep sun exposed slopes. Most of these avalanches will limited to the loose surface snow, but remember we still have several buried weak layers in the snowpack. Although loose snow avalanche are most dangerous in areas where they could push you off a cliff or into a gulley, these slides could become large enough to trigger a more dangerous deep slab avalanche. The surface snow will be quite active on sun exposed aspects, so the danger will rise as the day heats up. Avalanche breaking into the deeper weak layers are possible on all aspects but most likely on steep northwest through east facing terrain that has a thin weak snowpack or that has avalanched previously in the season.


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

Today there is a MODERATE danger of triggering a loose snow avalanche on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees. On sun exposed slopes the danger may rise to CONSIDERABLE with day time heating. In the afternoon, traveling under steep sun exposed slopes is not advised. There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees and above 9,000. Today this danger is present on all aspects, but deep slab avalanche are most likely on northwest, north, northeast, and east facing slopes.


Note: the western Uinta Mountains have a CONSIDERABLE danger above 10,000 feet and is significantly more dangerous than the Wasatch Range. Were especially worried about snowmobilers in the high Uinta Mountains today. Western Uintas call 1-800-648-7433 or click here for weekend and holiday forecasts.


Mountain Weather:

The storm that brought snow to the mountains yesterday has moved off to the southeast, and a ridge of high pressure is building over the Great Basin. Today skies will be mostly sunny, and light westerly winds this morning will increase into the 10 to 15 mph range this afternoon. Temperatures will rise into the upper 20s at 8,000 and mid teens at 10,000. High clouds should move in this evening as the next storm system approaches. On Monday the cloud cover and wind speeds will increase, but the precipitation probably wont start until later in the evening. Snow is likely Monday night into Tuesday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the American Fork, Bountiful Sessions, and Lambs Canyon areas today.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, 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.


I 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: