Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

 

Sunday, March 23, 2003

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Good Morning.This is Ethan Greene with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Sunday, March 23, 2003, and itís 7:30 in the morning.

 

Current Conditions:

Yesterday I didnít see any other 2 plankers in the mountains, but there were plenty of hikers, bikers, climbers, and even a few fishermen.Last night under mostly cloudy skies temperatures dipped into the upper 30ís at 8,000í and low 30ís at 10,000í.The winds have been from the southwest in the 20 mph range with gusts into the 30ís.Along the highest peaks the winds have been in the 30 mph range with gusts into the 50ís.At 5:00 am this morning the free-air freezing level was 10,400í.

 

The snow got pretty wet yesterday on all aspects below about 8,000í.Southerly aspects were wet at all elevations, but there was still some nice, dry snow on northerly aspects above maybe 9,300í.†† Under a blanket of clouds only the surface of the snow froze overnight.Below about 9,000í there is probably a breakable crust on all aspects this morning.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

The next storm system is knocking at our door, but it hasnít stepped over the threshold just yet.Clouds and cooling temperatures should reduce the chances of wet slides today, but with only a shallow freeze overnight even a short period of direct sun could tip the scales.If the sun breaks trough the clouds look for signs of increasing wet slide activity such as point release avalanches coming out of rocky areas.If youíre sinking into the snow more than 6 or 8 inches itís time to get off of and out from under steep sun exposed slopes.There were two large natural glide avalanches reported yesterday.These slides came off of the steep east facing rock slabs in Broads Fork.The danger from this type of avalanche will decrease today, but traveling under steep rock slabs is probably not a good idea this morning.

 

By this afternoon it should start to feel like winter again.Temperatures at 8,000í will drop below freezing and we should get some snow.As the new snow starts to pile up expect some sluffing off the steeper slopes.Southwest winds should remain in the 20+ mph range through the afternoon, so wind pillows will be forming around the usual terrain features.Fresh wind drifts will be easy to trigger, but most of them will be less than a foot deep.Remember that even small avalanches can be dangerous if they push you off a cliff or into a tree or gulley.

 

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

Today there is a MODERATE avalanche danger.The danger of wet slides will be decreasing during the day, while the danger from wind drifts will increase in the afternoon.There also remains a MODERATE danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes steeper than 35 degrees and above about 9,500 feet.

 

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

 

Mountain Weather:

A Pacific trough will move into northern Utah tonight bringing cooler temperatures and snow the Wasatch Range.Today expect strong southwest winds and mostly cloudy skies.Temperatures will be cooling throughout the day.By mid day temperatures at 8,000í should be near 30 degrees.Snow showers should begin this afternoon with the rain/snow line near 7,000í.I expect 1 to 4 inches by sunset.The mid-level cold front should move into the mountains around midnight.Snowfall rates should increase overnight and begin to decrease Monday morning.An additional 4 to 8 inches could accumulate by Monday morning.

 

General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying today in the American Fork drainage. 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.

 

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.

 

Thanks for calling!

________________________________________________________________________

†††

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm