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 15, 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 Saturday, March 15, 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:

Skies are mostly clear this morning, and temperatures a welcome 5 to 10 degrees cooler than yesterday morning.  They are currently in the upper 20’s to low 30’s at most elevations.  Yesterday’s quick hitting little disturbance dropped 2-6” of dense snow in the Cottonwoods, above about 8,000’, with light rain below.  The northern Provo and Ogden mountains received 1-3” of snow.  The exception was the mountains south of Provo Canyon, which received rain to 10,000’.  The southerly ridge top winds are picking up this morning ahead of the next storm, and averaging 20 to 25 mph, with gusts near 40 across the highest peaks.


Beneath the new snow, the old snow surface should be well frozen this morning and supportable on most aspects. 


Avalanche Conditions:

The only avalanche activity reported yesterday was wet slides or sluffs that occurred south of Provo Canyon during the rain.  These started between 9,500’ and 10,000’, and ran up to 1,500’ vertical.  Through out the rest of the range, clouds, wind and cooler temperatures allowed the snow surface to remain frozen through out the day above about 8,000’.  I expect the cooling temperatures, increasing clouds and wind to offset any heating today. But if the snow does start to get damp and soggy, get off of and out from underneath any steep slope.  Cornices may still be sensitive, and break back further than expected.


The strong winds may create a few isolated drifts from yesterdays 2 to 6” of new snow, so as always, avoid any recent drifts of wind blown snow on steep slopes.


And finally, deep slab avalanches are still possible in the same areas that have been haunting us all year.  Snow pits I dug yesterday on upper elevation, shady slopes with a relatively shallow snow pack showed that some of the sugary snow layers have remained remarkably weak.  The most likely way to trigger one of these deeper slides would be with a big trigger of several people or snow machines, or by getting on a slope approaching 40 degrees or steeper with a shallow, weak snow pack.


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

The avalanche danger today is MODERATE on steep northwest, north, northeast, and easterly facing slopes that have had a thin snowpack most of the year.  This is only a small percentage of the backcountry terrain, and the majority of the terrain has a generally LOW avalanche danger this morning.  The avalanche danger may rise to MODERATE on and below steep slopes if they heat up more than expected. 


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


Mountain Weather:

Northern Utah will see increasing clouds and strong southwest winds today ahead of a storm system which should arrive by early Sunday morning.  8,000’ highs today will be in the low 40’s, and temperatures at 10,000’ will be in the upper twenties.  The southwesterly winds will increase into the 25 to 35 mph range, with gusts in the 50’s along the most exposed peaks.  Light snowfall may begin this afternoon, and increase Sunday, with frontal passage mid day.  Lows tonight in the upper 20’s, and continued strong southwest winds through Sunday.  A cooler, unstable air mass should remain over the area through Tuesday, with periods of snow.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides may not fly today, but if they do get out they will be in the Silver, Days, Cardiff and White Pine drainages with a possible home run in Grizzly Gulch. For more information or to talk with a guide, call (801) 742-2800.


The Wasatch Powderkeg race will take place early this morning in Grizzly Gulch, Alta and on to Brighton via Twin Lakes Pass, so stand back.  The orange marker flags will be removed after the race.


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: