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


: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/

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Avalanche advisory

Saturday, DECEMBER 27, 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 Saturday, December 27th, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 




Current Conditions:

With storm totals in the 3-4’ range, the Wasatch experienced a significant avalanche cycle yesterday that is likely to continue into today.  Natural avalanches were reported across the range on a variety of aspects and elevations, with control teams reporting crowns in the 2-4’ range, with some breaking into old snow.  Many avalanche slopes released multiple times and both Little Cottonwood and American Fork canyons were closed.  Details are still filtering in, but yesterday a very large natural avalanche ran down into the Aspen Grove area on Timpanogas, burying seven people.  Of those caught, four were rescued from the debris.  Tragically, there are three people still missing in the avalanche this morning.  Rescue efforts were called off due to the dangerous avalanche conditions last night and the teams are likely to return this morning. 


Avalanche Conditions:

Overnight the Salt Lake and Park City mountains picked up an additional 8-10”, the Ogden mountains and the Uintas an additional 12”, and the Provo mountains picked up another 2-4”.  Accompanying the snowfall were winds out of the northwest averaging in the 15-20mph range, with the most exposed stations reporting hourly averages at 25mph.  Due to the nature of the avalanche instability, today it will continue to be important to avoid runout areas as well as steep slopes.  At this stage of the game, the danger exists on and below steep slopes at the high, mid, and low elevations – including the roof of your house – a reminder that a roof-alanche fatality occurred in the early 90’s in Wasatch County.    Avoid gullies, cut banks, and other terrain traps that will be natural entrapment areas where the snow debris will immediately fill up.  Collapsing, or ‘whoomphing’, and shooting cracks are l signs of immediate instability.  In the mid and upper elevations, where we have buried weak layers and more significant loading, any avalanche will have the potential to be 3-5’ deep.   Even lower elevation terrain such as Mill Creek, City Creek, and the foothills should be considered suspect. 


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

There remains a HIGH danger of avalanches on steep slopes in high, mid, and low elevation terrain.  Natural and human triggered avalanches will be likely.  Those without good route finding or rescue skills should avoid the backcountry today.


Uinta Mountains:  A specific advisory for the Uinta mountains is being issued today.  Click on western Uintas on the advisory page or phone 1-800-648-7433.


Mountain Weather:

Today will be a day of transition as the bulk of the storm moves on to the east.  As the flow shifts northwest, areas favored by this flow could see an additional 4-8” in bands over the course of the day.  Skies may turn mostly cloudy later this evening.  Winds will be out of the northwest in the 20mph range.  Temperatures will be zero at 10,000’ and in the single digits at 8000’.  Tomorrow will give us a bit of a break with a splitty looking storm on tap for Monday.


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 will not fly today unless they get a window for control work on the highways.


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. 


I will update this advisory on Sunday 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: