Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Thursday, NOVEMBER 27, 2003   7:30 am


Happy Thanksgiving!  This is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, November 27, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


Current Conditions:

What a wonderful storm to start the Thanksgiving weekend with.  Storm totals are about 8 - 10” in the Ogden, Provo and Uinta mountains, one to one and ½ feet on the Park City side, and 2 feet at the higher elevations in the Cottonwoods, with densities of about 5%.  A last few snow showers are being reported early this morning from the upper Cottonwoods, but these should end shortly.  Yesterday afternoon, the northwesterly winds picked up into the 20 to 25 mph range across the higher ridges and continued to blow through about midnight.  Since then, wind speeds have dropped to less than 10 mph.  Temperatures are once again in the single digits at 10,000’ and the upper teens at 8,000’.    


Today could be another “best day of the year”, with deep light powder on all aspects.  Expect some soft wind drifts in the open, upper elevation terrain, and this afternoon’s sun could dampen the surface snow on steep south and westerly facing slopes.  


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday’s avalanche activity was confined to the new snow only, with wind the key factor to the avalanche pattern.  In parts of the upper Cottonwoods, where the snow piled up fast and furiously with a bit of wind, there was a small natural avalanche cycle.  These were shallow, new snow soft slabs on steep, easterly facing slopes.  Ski cutting by both backcountry travelers and within the resorts produced very sensitive soft slabs in wind affect terrain with some being triggered from a distance.  These avalanches averaged 1 to 2” deep, and 50 to 100’ wide, with a few in the windiest locations up to 3’ deep or 300’ wide.  On steep slopes many of the slides were running further and faster than expected.   Outside of the wind affected terrain, only sluffing occurred on the steeper slopes.


Today should hold no surprises – approach steep slopes from the top, and careful ski cutting and cornice drops should continue to be effective stability tests.  The winds drifts will be most widespread on northeast, east and southeasterly facing slopes, but watch for cross loading of wind drifts around other terrain features.  The last few inches of snow may have hidden many of these wind pillows, making them harder to detect. 


If skies clear later today as expected, the direct sun could trigger damp sluffs on steep sunny slopes.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  These wind drifts will be mostly confined to upper elevation ridgelines.  Moderate means human triggered avalanches are possible, while naturals are unlikely.  Wind sheltered terrain has a LOW avalanche danger today; though expect loose snow sluffs on slopes approaching 40 degrees or steeper.


Mountain Weather:

Today will be delightful, with clearing skies, light winds, and warming temperatures.  Temperatures will warm into the upper teens at 10,000’ and the mid 20’s at 8,000’.  The northwesterly winds should remain light, in the 10 to 15 mph range.  Tonight, temperatures will continue to warm as the winds shift to the southwest and increase into the 20 mph range.  Friday will be mostly cloudy and much warmer, with highs in the low to mid 30’s.  This warmer and unsettled weather will continue through the weekend.  



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


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:


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 801-524-6301.


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. 


Andrew McLean will update this advisory on Friday 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: