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


Friday, March 21, 2003

If you want this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day for free, click HERE.

If you want recent archives of this advisory, click HERE.

To e-mail us an observation, CLICK HERE.

To see photos of recent avalanche activity CLICK HERE (updated 3-17-03)

To see a list of recent avalanches, CLICK HERE (updated daily)


Good Morning.  This is Tom Kimbrough with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, March 21, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


With our President’s Iraq war now in progress, winter recreation and its associated avalanches seem a little trivial.  In any case, may this war be brief, with few casualties among the military on both sides and among the Iraqi civilians.  May the Iraqis soon be able to rebuild their country and live peaceful, productive lives.


Current Conditions:

Last night, under clearing skies, temperatures dipped into the teens and low twenties in the mountains.  The winds are 5 to 15 mph from the northwest. 


Spring officially began at 6:00 p.m. last night but yesterday in the mountains, it felt like it was already here.  The sun and warm temperatures baked this week’s new snow on all but upper elevation due north facing aspects and this morning many slopes will be topped with breakable crusts.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday a couple of large slides were released by backcountry explosive testing in Mineral Fork in the Big Cottonwood drainage and there were a few more slides from control work at the resorts in Little Cottonwood.  Most of these were within the surface layers of the newest snow but several were frighteningly large, breaking into depth hoar near the ground.  All were at upper elevations, with north and east facing slopes the most active.  There were also numerous natural wet sluffs, some rather large, from heating on east, south and west aspects.


Yesterday’s warmth combined with last night’s cold temperatures will have helped stabilize this week’s wind drifts and maybe even reduced the chances of triggering a slide into the depth hoar.  Still, a look at one of the very large avalanches from the last couple of days will certainly give you that “shock and awe” feeling without having to be in Baghdad.


As temperatures rise today the danger of wet slides will increase, especially on slopes receiving direct sunlight.  After the surface crusts soften and the snow begins to get wet and sloppy it’s time to get off of and out from under steep slopes.  


There is also an isolated chance of triggering an avalanche breaking into deeply buried faceted snow on steep slopes, especially those with a shallow snowpack above 9,500’.  This danger will also increase with daytime warming.


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

The danger of wet slides is LOW this morning but will rise to CONSIDERABLE on sun exposed slopes as the day warm up.  There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering very dangerous deeper avalanches on slopes steeper than 35 degrees and above 9,500 feet, especially on slopes that face north and east. 


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


Mountain Weather:

Last night’s disturbance missed the Wasatch to the south leaving us with mostly clear skies by dawn.  Today will be sunny with high temperatures getting close to 40 degrees at 8,000 feet and in the thirties at 10,000.  Winds will be 10 to 20 mph over the ridges from the northwest.  Saturday should be another beautiful spring day with stormy weather perhaps returning for Sunday and Monday.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying today in the Days, Cardiff, Silver and White Pine drainages with a home run in Grizzly Gulch or White Pine.  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.


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday morning.


Thanks for calling!



National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: