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

Tuesday, DECEMBER 30, 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 30, 2003, and its 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Although weve technically had a break in storms, it may not seem like it. Since 6:00 am yesterday, weve had another 1 to 1.5 feet of new snow with upper Big Cottonwood Canyon picking up two feet. Winds were strong out of the SW for the entire region, with averages in the 20 30s and gusts in the 60s. Current snow totals for the last week stand at 80 in Little Cottonwood Canyon with over 22 FEET of snow falling since October. The temperatures have been warming overnight and are now up in the low 20s at 8,000 with the winds dying down into the mid to upper teens. If you are trying to access weather information on the internet, The National Weather Service computers are currently out of commission.


The turning and riding conditions have a wide range from scoured sustrugi to thick slabs of chalk-like wind hammered snow, to blissful light density powder. Likewise, the trailbreaking varies on where you go, from effortless to nearly impossible. The best bet for today will be sheltered lower angle slopes with the fast, light density new snow.


Avalanche Conditions:

We have issued a special avalanche bulletin over the weather radio and media.


With 1-2 feet of new snow combined with strong winds, we have a text book recipe for avalanche activity and you will need to avoid any steep slopes with deposits of wind drifted snow. You can recognize these by their smooth, rounded shape, slabby feel and hollow drum-like sound. Look for, and avoid, telltale cornices with fat wind deposits of new snow beneath them.


Sharp avalanche eyes will be mandatory today, as the snowpack is in a complex frenzy of transition. If you mistakenly wandering into a high elevation, wind loaded slope, you will most likely trigger an avalanche, but if you stay in wind sheltered, lower angle areas, you will find the best turning and riding conditions, as well as fairly stable snow. Watching your slope angles will be critical today as the new snow is sluffing easily, but not moving far on slopes less steep than 35 degrees.


With a substantial snowpack all the way down to 5,000, snow-shoers, ice climbers and winter campers will need to watch out for terrain traps in gullies and large collection zones above them.


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

The avalanche danger runs the gamut from HIGH in steep, upper elevation, wind loaded areas, to CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, to MODERATE on sheltered slopes less steep than 30 degrees.


Uinta Mountains: The Uintas have received significant amounts of snow and wind during the last storm and have a HIGH danger in upper elevation terrain. For more information, click on western Uintas on the advisory page or phone 1-800-648-7433.


Mountain Weather:

The current storm system will continue to split with a weak mid level through moving through at about mid day. The temperatures are at a 24 hour high as of 6:00am in the low to mid twenties and the wind has decreased as it shifts from the SW to the west. Today will be mostly cloudy with a chance of another 2-4 inches of snow in the Cottonwood Canyons, most likely in the morning. Wednesday should continue mostly cloudy with a chance of a trace to 1 of snow during the day and 8,000 temperatures in the upper 20s. The weather will start to shift Wednesday evening with an increasing chance of snow, temperatures in the low 20s and SW winds at 20-30mph.

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:

Weather permitting, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in Cardiff, Days and Silver Fork today, with return runs in Grizzly Gulch and assisting with control work in Big Cottonwood Canyon.


If you are getting into the backcountry, please give us a call and let us know what youre 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: