Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory


Wednesday, March 26, 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 26, 2003, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

Winds, clouds and temperatures have been steadily increasing ahead of the approaching Pacific trough.  Under cloudy skies, the southwesterly winds are currently in the 15 to 25 mph range, with gusts in the 30’s and 40’s.  Temperatures have warmed significantly, and are near 30 above 9,000’, and near 40 at the lower elevations. 


As for snow conditions, I would definitely wait to call in sick until tomorrow, when there is a chance for significant fresh powder.  Yesterday’s hot sun destroyed most of the soft snow, and a mix of crusts dominates the snow surface today.  There is a little powder on very sheltered, shady slopes at the higher elevations.


Avalanche Conditions:

The strong winds will manage to find the last bits of loose snow, and whip up a few fresh wind drifts today.  While the drifts will be shallow and pockety, they will certainly be sensitive and a few large enough to grab you and take you for a ride.  Once the snow starts to pile up later today and tonight, the size, depth and danger of the new drifts will rapidly increase.  With above freezing temperature below about 8,500’ and some heating today, wet loose sluffs are possible on steep slopes.  So if you find yourself on a slope where the snow is wet mush, it’s time to switch to a more solid slope or head for home.  If you are in an area that receives rain on snow, especially on soft powder snow, immediately head for low angle terrain.


In my snow pits yesterday, I was unable to isolate a column around the buried crust from Sunday’s rain and warm snow.  The weak snow around this crust could be a problem layer on shady mid and upper elevation slopes with the expected load of new snow. 


And finally, there may still be isolated places where it is possible to trigger an avalanche on a deeper weak layer, with very serious consequences.  The most likely place to find this sort of trouble is a very steep northerly facing slope above 9,500 feet, especially in rocky areas with a relatively thin snow pack.


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

The danger of wet loose sluffs is MODERATE today on steep slopes, especially at the lower elevations and in areas of rain on loose snow.  There is a MODERATE danger on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The isolated danger of triggering a deep slab avalanche on slopes approaching 40 degrees and above about 9,500 feet remains MODERATE.  On slopes less steep than 35 degrees, the danger generally is LOW.


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


Mountain Weather:

The Pacific cold front will reach the central Wasatch late this afternoon.  Highs today ahead of the front will be near 40 at 8,000’ and in the low 30’s at 10,000’.  The southwesterly winds will increase into the 25 to 35 range, with gusts in the 40’s and 50’s. Fireworks are likely this afternoon, with a good burst of thunderstorms and brief heavy precipitation with frontal passage.  The initial burst of snow will be followed by a break, and then another round of precipitation that could pile up the snow tonight into Thursday.   3 to 6 inches of snow are possible late this afternoon, and the potential exists for heavy accumulations of a foot or more tonight depending on the wind flow behind the front. The rain snow line should drop rapidly with frontal passage.


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying today in White Pine and Cardiff drainages.  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 Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling!



National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

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