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


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Avalanche advisory

Wednesday, NOVEMBER 19, 2003   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, November 19, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  Little Cottonwood Canyon will be closed this morning until around 8:00 a.m. for sighting in of the avalanche weapons.  They will be shooting from Tanner’s Gulch up canyon toward Alta.


Current Conditions:

Skies are clear this morning, and temperatures have already warmed into the upper twenties to low thirties.  Winds have shifted to the southwest, and are in the 10 to 15 mph range with gusts near 20.   Turning conditions are best on northerly facing slopes, especially in more wind sheltered areas, where you’ll find dense spongy snow.  Other slopes are a mix of sun crusts, wind scour and wind drifts.


Avalanche Conditions:

It’s almost unreal how fast the snow pack went from being extremely sensitive, with natural activity on Monday, to being mostly stable by Tuesday, all in less than 24 hours.  Yesterday, no avalanche activity was reported from the backcountry.  Even explosive control work in backcountry-like areas at the resorts triggered surprisingly few avalanches.  A few small soft slab pockets were released, plus one harder slab which was about 2’ deep, 50’ wide, and ran on the buried surface hoar layer.  Some of these slides released near the ridges and others mid slope.  Still, it’s not the day to be jumping with blind abandon into every steep chute or slope.  There are certainly places out there where a person could still trigger a slide, and caution should be used if you’re traveling on steep, shady, wind drifted slopes.


Another concern today will be the effect of the skyrocketing temperatures, forecast to be 10 to 20 degrees warmer than yesterday.  As the snow heats up on the steep sunny slopes and at the lower elevations, expect roller balls and wet, loose sluffs.  The snow often heats up first near and below rock outcrops.  It will be possible to “push” the damp snow with slope cuts, and once it gets moving it can gain a lot of mass on steep slopes. 


Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden and Provo area mountains):

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on wind drifted slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, above about 9,500.  The winds drifts are most widespread on north through east facing slopes.  Other slopes have a generally LOW danger.  As the day heats up, the avalanche danger will rise to MODERATE on and below steep, sunny slopes.


Mountain Weather:

The ridge is making its final stand today before another round of wind, snow and colder temperatures moves into northern Utah.  Today will be sunny and outlandishly warm, with highs near 40 at 10,000’ and near 50 at 8000’.  The southwesterly winds will gradually increase today, and reach the 25 to 35 mph range by nightfall.  Tonight the winds will really get cranking, and should be averaging near 40 mph by Thursday morning.  Thursday will be cloudy and windy with snow showers, and then heavier snow is expected for Friday into the weekend.


For specific digital forecasts for selected mountain areas from the National Weather Service, click the links below or choose your own specific location at the National Weather Service Digital Forecast Page:


3-Day Table

3-Day Graph

7-Day Table

Ogden Mountains

Ogden Mountains

Ogden Mountains

SLC Mountains

SLC Mountains

SLC Mountains

Provo Mountains

Provo Mountains

Provo Mountains



General Information:

If you are getting into the backcountry, please give us a call and let us know what you’re seeing, especially if you trigger an avalanche.  You can leave a message at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140.  Or you can e-mail an observation to [email protected] .org, or you can fax an observation to 801-524-4030.


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. 


Bruce Tremper will be updating this advisory tomorrow morning.

Thanks for calling.


For more detailed weather information go to our Mountain Weather Advisory

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: