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 Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, December 31, 2003, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

Snow and water numbers are becoming a blur these days, but the general thought is that the second storm since Christmas has ended, with snow totals since Sunday night in the 1 ½ to 2 ½ foot range, with upper Big Cottonwood and the Canyons receiving the greatest amounts.  The next storm is on our door step, and winds this morning are from the southwest, averaging 20 to 25 mph, with gusts close to 50 mph.  Temperatures have warmed, and are in the upper teens at 10,000’.  Turning and trail breaking conditions yesterday ranged from nearly impossible pig wallows to very reasonable with superb turning conditions, depending on location.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, major avalanches were triggered from control work in the Ogden area mountains.  These were on heavily wind loaded north, northeast and east facing slopes, between 8,500 and 9,500’.  Visibility was poor with no views of the crown faces, but the slides were running full track and breaking trees, with large debris piles 10 to 20’ deep.   They may have broken into old snow layers from before Christmas.


In the central Wasatch, reports were of new snow avalanches only, though with poor visibility continuing to plague us, most information is deduced by looking at the debris. Highway control work in LCC resulted in long running slides, with several reaching the road.   Resort control work was able to pull out one larger slide in a heavily wind loaded area, with most other slides being new snow soft slabs only.   In the backcountry, all the reports I received were from people wisely avoiding the highest, steepest wind affected terrain.  In the more sheltered terrain and on lower angle slopes, there was lots of safe skiing, with only sluffs and a few small soft slabs reported.    While these snow conditions are manageable in smaller terrain, they could be life threatening on bigger slopes or with any sort of terrain trap where all this snow could pile up very deeply.


The wind is increasing once again today, and the greatest danger will continue be on steep, recently wind loaded slopes, especially along the higher ridges and in big open bowls.  As you travel, look for, and avoid any slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  With natural avalanches a possibility today, be aware of and avoid traveling under steep terrain.


We have developed a decent snowpack below 7,000’, and the approaching storm will affect the snow on slopes in and adjacent to the urban and mountain valleys.  Yesterday a natural “roofalanche” occurred at 7,000’, resulting in a large debris pile.  Snowshoers, ice climbers and winter campers will need to watch out for increasing avalanche problems at the lower elevations through the weekend.


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake and Park City, and Provo mountains:

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on steep, upper elevation slopes, especially with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The danger is MODERATE on steep, sheltered slopes with no recent wind drifts.  In wind sheltered terrain less steep than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is LOW.  The avalanche danger will be on the rise today, and continue to increase through Saturday.


Bottom Line for the Ogden mountains:  The avalanche danger is HIGH today on steep, upper elevation wind loaded slopes, with large, destructive avalanche possible.  The danger is MODERATE on sheltered slopes less steep than 35 degrees and in wind sheltered terrain.


Uinta Mountains:  For Uinta specific information, click on western Uintas on the advisory page or phone 1-800-648-7433.


Mountain Weather:

A series of winter storms will be bringing another round of snow and wind to the northern Utah mountains.  Today, the mountains north of I-80 should receive 3 to 6” of snow, with 2-4” to the south of I-80.  Highs today will be in the upper teens at 10,000’.   Winds will remain from the southwest, in the 20 to 30 mph range, with strong gusts near 50 mph common.  More snow tonight and tomorrow, with additional accumulations of 3 to 6” each 12 hour period.  The strongest winds and heaviest snow will be Thursday night through Friday.  2-4 feet of snow is expected in the mountains by Saturday night.


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 assisting with control work in Big Cottonwood Canyon early this morning, and then fly in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver and Grizzley.


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 Thursday 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: