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


Sunday, March 09, 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 Sunday, March 09, 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 Backcountry Access.


Current Conditions:

After a week of cold and windy weather the sun returned yesterday, and it came back with a vengeance.  Last night temperatures dipped to near 20 degrees at both 8,000’ and 10,000’.  The winds have been out of the west and southwest in the 15 mph range.  Along the high peaks the winds continue to blow in the 25 mph range from the west.


Yesterday the sun caused the snow to become damp on most aspects up to about 8,500’, and those areas will be crusted this morning.  Warm temperatures over the last two days have helped the new snow to settle dramatically.  The trail breaking has become much less arduous and there is some nice creamy powder in areas sheltered from the sun and warmth.


Avalanche Conditions:

It’s always nice to get out and look around after a storm, and yesterday’s weather provided a perfect opportunity to view the carnage from last week.  Reports of large natural avalanche continue to stream into our office (Wilson Fork 1 2 3, Alexander Basin).  Most of these avalanches released during the later half of the week, but direct sun and some explosive testing brought a few down yesterday.


The clear weather allowed for some of our observers to see large natural avalanches on the north side of Timpanogos, Box Elder Peak, the American Fork Twin, White and Red Baldy, and Gobblers Knob.  These avalanches probably released on Thursday or Friday, but our avalanche cycle didn’t stop yesterday it just shifted gears.


Yesterday a backcountry traveler was caught and buried in an avalanche in the Logan area mountains.  He was caught and buried in a slide about 2’ deep and 200’ wide.  His companions rescued him using avalanche transceivers in about 10 min.  That is all the information I have right now, but our staff will visit the site today.  


Activity that occurred yesterday includes a large natural avalanche reported on the north side of Santaquin Peak at about 10,000’ that may have been triggered by daytime heating.  The slide was over 5’ deep and 400’ wide.  There were also several new snow avalanches reported from the Primrose Circ breaking about 50’ wind on steep east facing slopes.  Explosive testing in the backcountry produced several large avalanches.  Two slides in the American Fork area released on east and northeast aspects at about 10,000’.  These slides were 2 – 4’ deep and up to 250’ wide.  There were also two large slides on Little Superior in Cardiff Fork.  These slides were 3 to 8’ deep and up to 400’ wide.  They released on northeast aspects at about 10,500’.  There was also an explosive triggered avalanche on the south side of Catherine’s Pass 1-2’ deep and 200’ feet wide.


Our recent spell of warm weather is helping to stabilize the new snow instability, but almost three feet of snow and 5 days with strong winds last week put a big new load on our snowpack.  The areas where you can trigger a deep slab avalanche are decreasing, but if you get caught in one of these beasts the consequences will be catastrophic.  It’s going to be another warm day so the avalanche danger may increase in the afternoon.  The greatest danger is in the upper elevation areas, but traveling under steep sun exposed slopes in the afternoon may also expose you to risk.  


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

The avalanche danger today is CONSIDERABLE on wind loaded slopes approaching 40 degrees above about 9,000’.  A considerable avalanche danger means that natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are probable.  As the day heats up the danger on and under sun exposed slopes will rise.  In other wind loaded areas there is a MODERATE avalanche danger.


Bottom Line (western Uintas):   There is a CONSIDERABLE 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:

A broad, “dirty” ridge over the western U.S. will bring warm temperatures and high clouds to northern Utah today.  The winds will blow from the west and southwest in the 15 to 20 mph range.  Along the high peaks the winds should remain in the 25 – 30 mph range.  Temperatures will warm into the low 40’s at 8,000’ and mid to upper 20’s at 10,000’.  Wind speeds will increase this evening as a weak impulse moves through.  This feature should manifest as increased cloud cover, a few snow flurries, and westerly winds in the 25 mph range.  Mild weather returns on Monday with another weak disturbance moving through Tuesday afternoon.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will flying in the American Fork and Snake Creek drainages as well as the Bountiful Sessions today.  For more information 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.


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


Thanks for calling!




National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: