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

Thursday, DECEMBER 18, 2003   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 18th, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


We’re giving a free avalanche awareness talk tonight at the Sandy REI, which is located at the Southtown Mall at 106th South and I-15.  It’s in a separate building on the west side of the parking lot, and the talk starts at 7pm. 


Current Conditions:

With high pressure sitting squarely over the west, skies are mostly clear this morning, and temperatures at 10,000’ have warmed into the upper 20’s to low 30’s.  Cooler air has pooled in the valley bottoms, where temperatures are still in the teens to low 20’s.  The northwesterly winds are generally less than 10 mph, with only the highest peaks having speeds in the 15 to 20 mph range.   Most sunny slopes are now crusted, but the shady, northerly facing slopes continue to be an all-you-can-eat powder buffet in creamy settled snow, with only occasional patches of crusts or wind drifts.


Avalanche Conditions:

There was one report of a new, small slab avalanche that released naturally yesterday on the south end of Cardiac ridge – a steep, northeasterly facing slope at about 10,700’.  It was about a foot deep, 30 to 50’ wide, and ran out the chute – large enough to take a person for a ride.  It was probably a fresh wind drift that formed from Tuesday night’s slightly stronger upper elevation winds.  While the weak snow near Saturday’s rain crust has generally adjusted to the weight on it, there are still a few isolated places where a person could trigger a slide on this layer.  The most likely places would be steep slopes with wind drifts along the higher ridgelines.


More widespread today will be loose snow sluffs on both shady and sunny slopes.  On the shady slopes, sluffs in the weakening surface snow could entrain enough snow to knock you off your feet.  On steep, sunny slopes, wet, loose sluffs will be possible as the surface snow heats up.  These may need a push to get going, but again could entrain enough snow to take you for a ride.


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

On steep, upper elevation slopes with deposits of wind drifted snow, the danger is MODERATE today.  You will find these isolated drifts mostly on very high, wind exposed ridges.  On non wind-loaded slopes the danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather:

High pressure will remain over the intermountain region through Friday, keeping a dry, warm air mass over the area.   A few high, thin clouds will drift past today, and 10,000’ highs should reach the mid 30’s, with 8,000’ highs in the low 40’s.  Winds will remain light, less than 10 mph, from a northerly direction.  Friday the winds will shift to the southwest, ahead of a weak trough which will brush northern Utah on Saturday.  The better chance for snow will be on Sunday as a stronger trough moves across the area.


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:

Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cardiff, Mineral and Days Fork.  Today they plan to fly in Cardiff, Days and Silver, with their return runs and avalanche classes in White Pine and Patsy Marley. 


If you get out early, each day we try to update our more detailed, early morning report with preliminary information by around 6:00 am at (801) 364-1591.


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 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: