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


Saturday, March 08, 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 Saturday, March 08, 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:

For the weekend warriors, here’s a quick synopsis of the previous week: From Monday through Wednesday, we got blasted with one of the major snowstorms of the season with

24 to 30+ inches of very light density snow 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.  Then on Thursday and yesterday, temperatures warmed dramatically and the winds nuked along 30-40, gusting into the 50’s along the highest peaks and it turned most of our nice snow into either dense, wind drifts in wind exposed terrain or upside-down, slabby snow down out of the wind.  It’s what my better half, Susi calls “kawhopity whop” snow, because that’s how your skis sound when they break through the dense slabs into the softer snow underneath.  Below about 8,500 feet the snow is quite damp or wet and there’s a sun crust on the south facing slopes.  Although almost no snow fell yesterday south of Ogden, 8 inches fell in the Logan area mountains.


Avalanche Conditions:

As you might imagine, heavy snow and strong winds created localized to widespread areas of both natural and human triggered avalanches these past couple days.  Many of these slide were breaking deeply into old layers of weak, faceted snow and made deep, large and scary avalanches.  The western Uinta mountains were especially active because they have such a thin, weak snowpack and we have issued a “special avalanche statement” for the western Uinta Mountains today.  As for the Wasatch Range, for the past two days, we have been calling the avalanche danger “high” on steep slopes with recent wind drifts.  The warm temperatures have helped to settle and stabilize the recent wind slabs so today the danger is probably more like considerable, which means that you probably won’t see too many natural avalanches but human triggered avalanches are still likely on steep slopes with recent wind drifts.  Also, the cornices are very large, sensitive and very dangerous.  They will break farther back than you expect.  They are hard enough to fool you into thinking you’re standing on solid ground when there might be nothing but air beneath you.  As always, never walk up to the edge of a drop off.  The winds are still strong today and will probably remain so and they will continue to build cornices today and load slopes up with wind drifted snow.  Today is definitely a good day to avoid steep slopes with recent wind deposits.



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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on and below all slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow steeper than about 35 degrees, which means that human triggered avalanches are likely.  The danger is MODERATE on non-wind drifted slopes steeper than 35 degrees.


Bottom Line (western Uintas):   There is a HIGH avalanche danger on, adjacent to and below all steep slopes, especially ones with recent wind drifts.


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


Mountain Weather:

As we were joking yesterday, the snow might not be very good, but at least it’s windy.  Today will have continued strong ridge top winds blowing 20-30 and gusting into the 40’s on the exposed peaks.  Ridge top temperatures will be around 25 today and near 30 on Sunday.  8,000 foot temperatures will be in the upper 30’s today and mid 40’s tomorrow.  We will have mostly sunny skies today and some scattered high clouds on Sunday.  As for the extended forecast, we have a weather system going mostly north of us for Monday and Tuesday which should give the mountains in the very north part of the state a chance for light snow showers but probably not affect areas south of about Ogden or Salt Lake City very much.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly today in Cardiff, Days, Silver and White Pine  and American Fork with a homerun in Grizzly Gulch.  If you want to speak with a WPG guide, call 801 742-2800.


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.


Ethan Greene will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: