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


Monday, March 03, 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 Monday, March 03, 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 Alta Ski Lifts.


Current Conditions:

High pressure is on its way out this morning, and the next storm system is knocking at our door.  Under partly cloudy skies temperatures dipped to near 10 degrees at both 8,000’ and 10,000’.  The wind has been from the west-southwest overnight in the 20 mph range with gusts into the 30’s and 40’s.


Sunshine yesterday formed a thin crust on southerly aspects and I imagine the winds have formed some fresh drifts overnight.  Today the soft snow will probably be limited to sheltered areas.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday’s sunshine was enough to cause the snow surface to become damp, but cool temperatures and some clouds kept the wet avalanche activity to a minimum.  We did receive a few reports of wet sluff avalanches, but they were generally small and confined to the surface snow.  People were still able to get some dry sluffs on steep slopes, but the new snow was less sensitive than Saturday.


There were two avalanches reported that broke into the old snow.  Explosive testing in Mary Ellen Gulch on a 40 degree, east facing slope, at 11,000’ produced an avalanche about 2’ deep and 200’ wide.  Also a ski cut on Mill Canyon Peak produced a new snow avalanche about 1’ deep and 30’ wide.  This slide traveled about 100’ vertically before triggering a larger avalanche over 3’ deep and 200’ wide.  The avalanche occurred on a 40 degree, east facing slope, at 9,500’ and broke down to the ground in places.


Today is a bit of a transitional day.  The cloud cover will be increasing during the day as the next storm system moves in, and snow will start to fall in the late afternoon.  The wind speeds have increased overnight and they will continue to increase during the day.  Although the new snow got some sun yesterday, with wind speeds over 20 mph wind drifts will form rapidly.  These fresh wind drifts will be sitting on surface hoar in some places and they could be quite sensitive.  The slide on Mill Canyon Peak illustrates that a small slide could trigger a dangerous deep slab avalanche.    


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

Today there is a MODERATE danger on any steep wind loaded slope.  As the winds increase the danger of wind slab avalanches may increase to CONSIDERABLE.  There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes facing northwest, north, northeast and east that are steeper than about 35 degrees and above about 9,000’.  As the wind load increases, so does the chance a small avalanche triggering a deeper and more dangerous avalanche. 


Note: the avalanche danger in the western Uinta Mountains above 10,000 feet has been significantly more dangerous than the Wasatch Range.


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


Mountain Weather:

A large Pacific trough is approaching from the northwest.  This system is forecast to split as it moves inland with the northern portion tracking through Utah.  Today expect increasing cloud cover and winds during the day.  Temperatures will be in the low 30’s at 8,000’ and upper teens at 10,000’.  The wind will shift to the west during the day and increase into the 30 mph range with higher gusts.  Snow should begin in the mid afternoon with 1 or 2 inches accumulating by sundown.  Overnight the winds will shift to the northwest and snow will continue to fall.  I expect 3 to 6 inches to accumulate by Tuesday morning.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the American Fork area 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.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Tuesday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

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