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

Tuesday, DECEMBER 23, 2003   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Andrew McLean with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s 8,000’ temperatures remained below freezing all day, and with a cool, clear night,  the new snow will remain sparkly and fresh for another round of fine turning and riding conditions.  The winds were generally less than 10 mph, out of the SW with ridgetop gusts into the mid teens which only moved a bit of snow around.  Today should be another holiday powder-feast, with clear skies and warmer temperatures, reaching into the lower forties, with increasing winds out of the SW.  People flocked to the backcountry yesterday and if you can find fresh tracks, it should remain superb today.  Shady mid to upper elevation slopes have silky powder, while south facing slopes are encrusted with an icing of melt/freeze glop on top of a crunchy base.


Avalanche Conditions:

While it was mostly quite in the backcountry yesterday, with a few powder and wet  sluffs being reported, one large avalanche occurred that is worth special mention.  This took place in the upper Red Pine drainage and was triggered by a cougar, who escaped unharmed.  It was 400’ across, 1 1/2 to 3 feet deep and ran about 200’ to a gentle bench before settling into a 4 -5’ deep debris pile.  This slid on a 35 degree NE facing slope at 10,400’ and failed on faceted crystals about 1” below the “brown layer” from two weeks ago.  It was roughly 100’ below the ridgeline and was most likely triggered in a more heavily wind drifted area.  While this might be an anomaly, it illustrates the potential for easily triggered, powerful avalanches to occur in isolated pockets above 9,500’ on northern aspects with windloaded drifts.  Steep, open bowls with no anchors should be approached on your best avalanche behavior while the snowpack adjusts to this new load.  Further details and photos of this avalanche will be posted on the Salt Lake section of avalanche.org later today.


Fortunately, there is still plenty of safe, stable skiing in wind sheltered areas, or on slopes less steep than 30 degrees at higher elevations.


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

There is a MODERATE danger of human triggered avalanches on steep, upper elevation slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, and a LOW danger on all other aspects and elevations.


Uinta Mountains:  There is a MODERATE danger of human triggered avalanches as the snowpack continues to adjust to the new snow from two days ago.


Mountain Weather:

Temperatures will continue to rise today and are currently at a past 24 hour high as of 6:00am.  It is expected to reach into the 40’s at 8,000’ with clear skies and little to no wind.  Starting this afternoon, an upper level high pressure system will shift to the east, bringing moderate winds from the SW.  This cold front will be preceded by increasing winds and colder temperatures tonight with a chance of snow early Wednesday morning. The cold, unsettled weather will persist into the weekend, with a chance of significant snowfall late Wednesday evening and early Christmas day.


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:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in the American Fork drainage yesterday and will be flying in Mineral, Cardiff, Days and Silver Fork today with homeruns and an avalanche class in Grizzly Gulch.


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. 


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory on Wednesday 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: