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


Tuesday, March 04, 2003

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Good Morning.  This is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, March 04, 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:

This morning most parts of the Wasatch Range have 6-9 inches of new snow with about 4 tenths of an inch of water equivalent.  The snow should either end or significantly slow down this morning around sunrise and remain mostly to partly cloudy today with more snow this evening.  The density is light at a chin-tickling 5 percent water weight and ridge top temperatures are around 10 degrees with ridge top winds from the northwest 20-30 mph.  Yes, this just might be another good day to call in sick for work.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, the moderate to strong west and southwest ridge top winds created some localized areas of sensitive wind drifts along the upper elevation exposed ridge lines.  People were able to intentionally trigger several of these, which were mostly about 6 inches deep and about 20 feet wide.  In the Provo area mountains in the Sundance backcountry a skier was able to ski cut some larger ones up to a foot deep and 40-70 feet wide, one of which broke out to 120 feet wide lower on the slope.  Today you will find another round of wind slabs, but these will be softer than yesterday’s.  Remember that some of the more recent soft wind slabs will have harder, more dangerous wind slabs right underneath them. So as always, you should avoid any steep slopes with recent wind drifts.


Finally, don’t forget about our season-long nemesis, the deeper layers of weak, faceted snow buried 2 - 5 feet deep in the snowpack.  With each incremental additional of weight of new snow, it seems to reactivate these layers, especially on the steep, rocky slopes with a thin snowpack.  All season long, we have been telling people to watch out for slopes that fit this description.  The thicker snowpack areas are fairly stable but the thin snow areas are especially vulnerable to the added weight of new or wind blown snow.


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

Today there is a CONSIDERABLE danger on any steep slope with recent wind drifts, which means that human triggered avalanches are likely.  There is a MODERATE danger on steep slopes without recent wind drifts, meaning that human triggered avalanches are possible.  There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a deeper, more dangerous, slab avalanches on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees and above about 9,000’, especially in thin snowpack areas.  If we get more than a foot of snow or if the winds blow much stronger than expected, and as new snow accumulates throughout this week, you can bump the danger ratings up a notch.


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:

Snow should diminish this morning and we should have mostly to partly cloudy skies today with some lingering snow showers.  Ridge top winds should blow 15-30 from the northwest with ridge top temperatures near 10 degrees.  We may get another shot of snow showers this evening and a continued chance of snow showers on Wednesday.  Down at 8,000’ the high temperature today should be around 25 with the high on Wednesday around 30.   For the extended forecast, we should continue with cloudy skies and occasional snow showers until about the weekend with continued moderate to strong ridge top winds from the west and northwest.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will probably not be flying today because of weather but if they do get out, they plan to fly in Cardiff, Days, Silver and White Pine with a home run in Grizzly Gulch.


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.


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Wednesday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: