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 11, 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 11, 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:

With this first good blast of spring weather, most folks in town are talking about their tulips and wearing shorts instead of talking about the mountains.  Last night was the second night in a row where overnight temperatures did not get below freezing at the 8,000’ elevation, although temperatures remained in the mid 20’s along the ridge tops.  The backcountry snow conditions consist of heavily wind-damaged snow above tree-line and wet, soggy, old powder at elevations below about 9,000’, which is actually not too bad on wide skis or a snowboard.  And believe it or not, there is still some passable, dry powder in a narrow elevation and aspect range between about 9,000’ and 10’000’ on straight north facing slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday was the first day since March 1st that we have not heard about any avalanche activity and we’ve had nearly continuous activity since February 1st.  We somehow squeaked by the extremely active avalanche cycle this past week without any fatalities, although there several close calls including one complete burial and one partial burial.  By my count, there have been over 120 unintentional human triggered avalanches this winter, which I believe is a Utah record.  No wonder I’m feeling burned out and frazzled.


Reports from the deluge of avalanches this past week continue to trickle in.  Yesterday, we heard about a group of experienced snowmobilers on Thurston and Farmington Peak in the Ogden area mountains who triggered 12-14 avalanches on Saturday, one of which partially buried someone.


As far as today’s avalanche activity, the recent warm temperatures are kind of a good news-bad news situation.  The good news is that warm temperatures settle and stabilize both the slabs and the underlying weak layers.  The bad news is that the temperatures are so warm that we may see some wet sluffs and wet slab avalanches today.  A pattern we have noticed is that three nights with above freezing temperatures often initiate a cycle of wet slab avalanches breaking into deeper layers of weak faceted snow.  Last night was the second above-freezing night—at least at 8,000’--and tonight will probably be the third.  You may find wet activity today mostly below about 9,000’ and on south facing slopes at all elevations.


Also, don’t forget about our season-long problem child--dry slab avalanches breaking deeply into weak faceted layers, which make large and dangerous avalanches.  Although the deeper snowpack areas have become much more stable, the steep, shallow, rocky areas at upper elevations continue to be rotten underneath, especially outside the Cottonwood Canyons and I’m still very suspicious of them.


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

Today, there is a MODERATE danger of both natural and human-triggered, wet sluffs and wet slab avalanches today especially in the heat of the afternoon.  You should stay off of and out from underneath steep slopes when they get wet and soggy.  Today there is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a dry slab avalanche especially in steep above-tree-line, shallow snowpack areas and on steep slopes with wind drifts.


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


Mountain Weather:

We continue in what we call a “dirty ridge”, which means occasional clouds coming over the top of a weak ridge.  Today, expect continued very warm temperatures with day time highs around freezing along the ridge tops and in the mid 40’s down at 8,000’.  Tonight we should have enough scattered clouds and moisture to keep overnight lows around freezing or above.  We should have partly cloudy skies today with mostly cloudy skies tonight.


As for the extended forecast, we have another storm for later in the weekend with warm and windy, cloudy weather for Friday and Saturday with the bulk of the storm arriving about Sunday through Tuesday. 


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will fly two ships today in Silver, Days, Cardiff, White Pine, American Fork with a home run in Grizzly Gulch.  For more information or to talk with a 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.


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: