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 22, 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 22, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

Spring is an enchanting time in the user friendly Wasatch, where a morning of skiing can be followed by an afternoon of biking, rock climbing or relaxing.  This morning, temperatures are in the mid 20’s to low 30’s under a solid deck of high clouds.  Winds are from a westerly direction, mostly in the 10 to 15 mph range, with gusts in the 20’s.   However, at a couple of exposed locations, hourly averages have been over 30 mph, with gusts in the 40’s and 50’s.


While many slopes are crusted this morning, the classic upper elevation, northerly facing slopes still hold decent caches of soft settled powder.  Later in the day, the crusts will soften to a more user friendly slush.


Avalanche Conditions:

A typical spring avalanche concern is heating.  As temperatures rise today, the danger of wet slides will increase, especially on slopes receiving direct sunlight.  Expect loose wet sluffs on steep slopes of all aspects at low and mid elevations, and on steep, sunlit slopes at the higher elevations.  These wet sluffs are large enough to take you for a ride off a cliff, into trees, or even bury you if the snow piles up in a gully bottom.  So when the snow begins to get wet and sloppy, it’s time to get off of and out from under steep slopes.


Shallow drifts of wind blown snow may have formed along the higher ridges.  On steep slopes, these drifts may be just large enough to knock you off your feet and send you for a ride.  The depth and area of these drifts will increase later today and tonight as wind speeds increase.


And finally, there remains 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’.  Six of these deep slides were released with explosives in the Cottonwoods on Wednesday and Thursday.  They were 2 to 5’ deep and up to 400’ across.  All were at upper elevations, with north and east facing slopes the most active.  While there are only isolated places where a person could trigger one of these slides, the consequences would be devastating.



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

The danger of wet slides is LOW this morning but will rise to MODERATE on sun exposed slopes and all steep low and mid elevation 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:

A Pacific cold front will move across the area on Sunday.  Ahead of the storm, a warm southwest flow will develop over northern Utah today. The winds will shift to the southwest by this afternoon, and increase into the 20 to 30 mph range.  Skies will be partly cloudy, with highs today in the upper 40’s at 8,000’ and near 30 at 10,000’.  Strong southwest winds tonight, with a chance for snow after midnight.   Light snow on Sunday, with snow showers lingering into Monday.   


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying today in the Days, Cardiff, Silver and 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.


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: