Wasatch Cache National Forest

In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Salt Lake County, and Utah State Parks


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Avalanche advisory

MOnday, DECEMBER 15, 2003   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, December 15th 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  We’re giving two free avalanche awareness talks this week – one on Tuesday, the 16th, at the Salt Lake REI and the second on Thursday, the 18th, at the Sandy REI.  Both start at 7pm.


Current Conditions:

The weather conditions for the past two days have been a little mind blowing: freezing rain and rime on Saturday, southerly winds yesterday that were enough to blow your socks off, and a foot or more of snow overnight.  Let’s not forget the lighting and half the west desert that blew into the mountains with frontal passage yesterday afternoon.  Storm totals across the range are 4” in the Ogden mountains, 12-14” in the central Wasatch, and 4-6” in the Provo mountains.  Temperatures have plummeted with the cold front and are now in the single digits at most mountain locations.  Ridgetop winds are now averaging in the 15-25 mph range out of the northwest.   


Avalanche Conditions:

Reports from the backcountry and ski areas this morning indicate that the central Wasatch is going through a natural avalanche cycle with slides running on a variety of aspects and elevations.  The 7-8% density snow is falling on a patchwork of underlying bed surfaces, from ¼” thick ice crusts, to thinner crusts to light density snow where the crusts have been eroded and blown away.  I suspect the activity today will be equally varied and complex, but one thing’s for sure: the avalanche danger has certainly risen dramatically and natural and human triggered avalanches will be likely today.  Test slopes and snow pits may not necessarily be indicative of the greater stability on the slope in light of the inconsistency of the underlying bed surfaces.  In addition, yesterday’s and last night’s winds likely deposited drifts further down on the slope than usual and crossloaded many areas as well. While it’s likely the window of most natural activity will be early this morning, the danger of human triggered avalanches will be likely over the course of the day.  For this morning and today, avoid being on or underneath slopes steeper than 35 degrees at the mid and upper elevations.  


Bottom Line (Salt Lake andPark City mountains):

There is a generally HIGH danger of both natural and human triggered avalanches today in the central Wasatch.  Those without good rescue or routefinding skills should avoid mountain travel today.


Ogden and Provo area mountains: The danger is CONSIDERABLE on upper elevation slopes steeper than 35 degrees.  Human triggered avalanches will be probable.


Mountain Weather:

We’ll see some lake-effect showers this morning that should dry out by midday or early afternoon.  Winds will be 15-20 out of the northwest and temperatures will be in the single digits and teens.  Ridging moves in later tonight and for the remainder of the week.



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:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides may fly into the American Fork drainage today for recon work if given a good weather window.


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 Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center is offering two 3-day avalanche workshops which are being held January 17-19 and February 14-16.  Information and sign-up sheets are available at the Black Diamond store (2092 E. 3900 S.; 278-0233).


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 Tuesday 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: