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 12, 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 12, 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:

Spring weather is here with a vengeance, and if you’re heading out today you’ll need to be well armed with everything from sunscreen and skin wax, to a t-shirt and extra water.  Skies have been clear for most of the night and temperatures dipped below freezing.  In the Park City and Salt Lake mountains, stations at almost all elevations dropped into the upper twenties to thirty degrees for a several hours, but have now started to warm.  The westerly winds are averaging near 25 mph across the highest peaks, and around 10 mph at the 10,000’ level.  In the Ogden and Provo mountains the 8,000’ temperatures are significantly warmer, in the upper 30’s, and the ridgeline temperatures are just below freezing in the Ogden mountains. 


There may be a few areas of supportable crusts for corn like skiing this morning in the sea of breakable crusts, but both will rapidly give way to wet, sloppy snow on all slopes below about 9,500 feet and on upper elevation sunny slopes.  There are a few isolated remnants of dry snow on upper elevation, sheltered, shady slopes, but they’ll be very limited today.


Avalanche Conditions:

The only avalanche activity reported for the past two days have been loose, wet snow sluffs and people getting chased around by cinnamon rolls of snow.  At the higher elevations, the winds and some clouds have helped ease the snow into the warmer temperature regime.  At the mid and lower elevations, most of the upper to mid pack is getting very damp. Today, temperatures will be a few degrees warmer, and wet slide activity may be more wide spread.  In additions to loose snow sluffs, more dangerous wet slab avalanches will also be possible.  And with each day of heating, the chances for a slide off a rocky slab, such as in Broads Fork or off the Mineral slabs, increases.


So chant the usual spring mantra – start early and end early.  Get off of and out from under steep slopes once they heat up and the snow gets wet and mushy.  And always be thinking consequences – even a small wet sluff can be dangerous if it pushes you off a cliff, buries you in a terrain trap such as a gully, or triggers a larger slab avalanche. 


In isolated areas, it is still possible to trigger a dry slab avalanche breaking deeply into weak faceted layers.  This would be most likely on a steep rocky slope with a shallow snowpack, or on a steep slope with wind drifts.


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, especially in the heat of the afternoon.  You should stay off of and out from underneath steep slopes when the snow heats up.  The danger of wet slides may rise to CONSIDERABLE in the Ogden and Provo mountains.  There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a dry slab avalanche in steep, 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:

Another toasty day is in store for the northern Utah mountains as a weak ridge builds into the area.  Under mostly sunny skies, temperatures will climb into the low 40’s at 8,000’ and to near 30 at 10,000’.  Winds will be from the southwest, in the 10 to 25 mph range.  The excessively warm, dry trend will continue into Friday morning.  Then there is a slight chance of precipitation Friday afternoon, with the models advertising a return to winter with snow possible Saturday night through Tuesday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will not be flying today. 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.


Bruce Tremper 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: