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


Wednesday, March 05, 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 Wednesday, March 05, 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:

Yesterday, the snow, wind and cold finally made it feel like winter, with fiendish trail breaking in the higher, wind drifted terrain.  And, like a true Wasatch storm, it refuses to quit.  Overnight the Salt Lake and Park City mountains received an additional 9”, and it is still snowing.  Storm totals are quite even, with the Cottonwoods, Park City and Ogden area mountains averaging 20” of snow, with just over an 1 inch of water equivalent.  The lower elevations in the Provo area mountains have about half that amount.  Temperatures this morning are toe numbing, in the single digits at 10,000’ and mid teens at 8,000’.   Winds are from a westerly direction, in the 10 to 15 mph range, with the highest peaks averaging 25 to 35 mph.  The deep snow will give those rusty trail breaking muscles a workout, and on many of the low angle slopes the snow will be too deep to turn.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, the moderate westerly winds created sensitive drifts along the higher ridges and in open exposed terrain.  Several backcountry parties were able to trigger 1 to 2’ deep, 50’ wide new snow slides, a few breaking into upper, old snow layers.  There were also numerous shallow natural slab avalanches, 2” to 10” deep, breaking in a layer of lighter density snow.


Today, the avalanche activity will be more wide spread, especially in wind affected terrain.  On steep slopes with wind drifts, expect both natural and easily triggered sensitive wind slabs 2 to 3 feet deep.  While the wind drifts will be most common on northeast, east and southeast facing slopes, they will also be found on most exposed ridge lines, along gully walls and around terrain features such as sub ridges and rocks.  Once triggered, the new snow sluffs and slides could break into the older, weak layers, creating much larger and more dangerous slides up to 5 feet deep.  These deeper slides are possible on slopes of all aspects, north, east, south and west, and especially on steep, rocky slopes with a thin snowpack.  It may be possible to trigger slides from a distance today.  Even out of the wind affected terrain, sluffing and new snow soft slabs up to 2 feet deep are possible on any steep slope.  Wind speeds are forecast to increase later today, and the areas of wind drifted snow will become more widespread and the avalanche danger will increase.    




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

Today there is a CONSIDERABLE danger on any steep slope with recent drifts of wind blown snow.  Considerable means that human triggered avalanches are likely and natural avalanches possible.  As the winds increase later today and tonight, the danger on steep, wind drifted slopes may rise to HIGH, with natural avalanche likely.  On steep slopes without recent wind drifts, there is a MODERATE danger, meaning that human triggered avalanches are possible. 


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


Mountain Weather:

A strong, moist westerly flow will set up over the northern Utah mountains today and tonight.  Mostly cloudy skies today, with an additional 2 to 5” of snow possible.  The northwesterly and westerly winds will increase throughout the day, from the current 10 to 20 mph averages into the 25 to 35 mph range.  Wind speed will be much stronger along the higher ridges.  Highs today will be in the low 20’s at 8,000’ and the mid teens at 10,000’.  The winds will continue to increase tonight and tomorrow, possibly reaching sustained speeds of 30 to 40 mph from the west.  Mostly cloudy skies tonight and tomorrow, with more snow showers.


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.


I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: