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


Thursday, March 06, 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 Thursday, March 06, 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:

Winter continues to blast the northern mountains with strong winds and more snow.  Storm totals are now 24 to 30 inches in the Cottonwoods, 1 to 2 feet on the Park City side, with 1 ½ feet in the Ogden mountains, and about a foot at 7,500’ in the Provo mountains.  The westerly winds picked up again last night, and have been blowing in the 20 to 30 mph range, with gusts near 40.  They are even stronger across the highest peaks, with averages near 35 mph, and gusts near 50.  Temperatures have been warming steadily over the past 24 hours, and are in the mid teens at 10,000’ and the low 20’s at 8,000’ which is about 10 degrees warmer than yesterday morning.  Trail breaking was tough yesterday, and the snow was almost too deep for turns, with wide skis and snowboards the tools for the job.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, despite poor visibility, natural, remotely triggered and human triggered slides were reported from the backcountry.  Naturals were observed mid track on many of the southeast facing gully walls in Little Cottonwood, in the Willows and on the east face of Reynolds in Big Cottonwood and along the Park City ridgeline in West Monitor and near the Sound of Music.  The slides averaged 1 to 2’ deep, were 60’ to 400’ wide, with easterly facing slopes the most active.  Remotely and human triggered slides were reported from the backcountry near Sundance and Canyons on similar slopes.  These slides were on wind loaded, northeast, east and southeasterly facing slopes 35 degrees and steeper, were 100 to 400’ wide and 1 to 2’ deep.  Many of these slides are breaking just above a buried ice crust.  Details on the 364-1591 line.  Check out these photos of recent slides.  (Photo 1 - Willows) (Photo 2 - Thaynes ) 


Today, the avalanche activity will be even more wide spread.  The denser warm and wind blown snow has overloaded the lighter snow.  On moderate to steep slopes with wind drifts, expect natural, remotely triggered and easily human triggered slides 2 to 3 feet deep, with the potential to break hundreds of feet wide.  While the wind drifts will be most common on northeast, east and southeast facing slopes, they will be found on all aspects, well off ridgelines, and around terrain features such as gully walls and sub ridges.  Even at low elevations, isolated pockets of wind drifted snow could be triggered in steep gullies and on rollovers that have seen wind loading from the strong low elevations winds.  Even out of the wind affected terrain, sluffing and new snow soft slabs up to 2 feet deep are possible on any steep slope.  It will be possible to trigger slides from lower angle terrain today, so also watch the steepness of slopes that you are connected to. 


Once triggered, the new snow slides could break into deeper weak layers, creating much larger and more dangerous slides up to 5 feet deep.  These deeper slides are also possible on slopes of all aspects, and especially on steep, rocky slopes with a thin snowpack. 


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

The avalanche danger is a HIGH on and below any slope with recent drifts of wind blown snow that is about 30 degrees or steeper.  HIGH means both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely.  Avalanches can be triggered from a distance today, and avalanche runout zones should be avoided.  People with out good route finding and avalanche skills should avoid backcountry travel today.  Even in wind sheltered terrain, human triggered avalanches are possible on steep slopes.


Bottom Line (western Uintas):  While the western Uintas received less snow, the preexisting upper elevation snow pack was shallow and very weak.  Field work in the area yesterday confirms there is a HIGH avalanche danger above timberline on, adjacent to and below steep wind loaded slopes.


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


Mountain Weather:

A strong, westerly flow will remain over the area through Friday.  Today the winds will be from the west, in the 25 to 35 mph range, with gusts in the 40’s and 50’s. Skies will be mostly cloudy, with an additional 2 to 5” of denser snow possible.  Highs today will be near 30 at 8,000’ and the upper teens at 10,000’.  Occasional snow showers tonight and Friday, with strong west and southwest winds.  The weekend looks dries and much less windy.


General Information:

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


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.


Tom Kimbrough will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: