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

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 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 Sunday, December 28th, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  As a public service announcement, access to Primrose cirque above Aspen Grove will be closed today as the search continues in the aftermath of Friday’s accident.  Photos from the incident can be found here.  If you’re having trouble accessing all the photos, simply close the glossary and try again.


Current Conditions:

We’ve managed to eek out the last drabs of the storm as the mountains have picked up another 4-6” overnight and it’s still lightly snowing.  Winds have been out of the northwest in the 10-15mph range with the most exposed stations humming along at 25-35mph.  Temperatures remain cold as 8000’ and 10,000’ temps are still in the single digits.  Storm totals are an impressive 4-5’/3.45”-4.92”H20 in the Cottonwoods, and 40-50” in the Ogden and Provo mountains.  Trailbreaking has been ridiculous and figure-11’s seem to be the only way to get down many slopes.  On a more comical note, it’s hard to remember the last time you needed a snorkel for the face shots below 6500’.


Avalanche Conditions:

Very few folks have been able to get out into the backcountry and those that did found that new wind-drifting in the newest light density snow resulted in sensitive new cornices and super soft slabs that you’d probably call sluffs if you didn’t see the fracture line.  These were about 8-10” deep, but running far and entraining quite a bit of snow.  These were at the low and mid-elevations.  Control work reported from the ski areas were generally consistent with soft slabs 1-3’ deep in newly windloaded areas.  The significant exception was control work in an out of bounds area adjacent to Sundance that broke 3-5’ deep on facets beneath the rime crust.  It was on a steep windloaded northeast facing slope.  Two mid-elevation naturals were also reported, one out of bounds at Deer Valley and the other out of bounds at Sundance.  Both were steep wind loaded areas 1-2’ deep and 2-300’ wide and less than 8500’ in elevation.  


There are plenty of places that you could get into trouble today.  The winds have generally been loading east facing slopes at the mid and upper elevations, but terrain has channeled the winds so that loading could be on a variety of aspects.  Now that another few inches have buried these wind-drifts, you’ll have to just poke around and stay on moderately angled slopes.  Collapsing and cracking will be signs to do a kick turn or turn the sled around and frankly most savvy backcountry folks I know are just barely coming out from the bed they’ve been hiding under for the past couple days.  With winds that are still pushing snow around, naturals may be possible on the steeper mid and upper elevation east- facing slopes.  Newer wind-drifts will be sensitive to the weight of a person and may have the potential to break deeper into the snowpack, resulting in a large and very dangerous slide.  I’d say it’s probably best to tiptoe around and watch slope angles again for today.


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

There is a CONSIDERABLE danger of human triggered avalanches on recently wind-drifted slopes approaching 35 degrees.  Human triggered avalanches will be probable.  With natural avalanches possible, be aware of runout zones that you are passing through.


Uinta Mountains:  The Uintas have had some interesting activity.  For more information, click on western Uintas on the advisory page or phone 1-800-648-7433.


Mountain Weather:

Skies will be mostly cloudy today with a few snow showers possible.  Temperatures will remain cold and in the single digits.  Winds will be out of the northwest in the 15-20mph range.  Today will be our ‘break’ in the activity, with another system on tap for tomorrow.  This system will have strong southwest winds and will come in on a southwest flow that could produce another foot or so of snow.  Another break midweek, with another decent storm set for Friday.



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:

If the Wasatch Powderbird Guides are able to fly today, they will have one ship in American Fork and another providing assistance in the Primrose Cirque search.


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 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: