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/

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day free of charge, click HERE.


Avalanche advisory

Thursday, January 1, 2004   7:30 am


Happy New Year!  This is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, January 1, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

The mountains are welcoming the New Year in true winter style, with a major winter storm in the forecast.   24 hour snow totals are an inexact science this morning, but the Park City side and Big Cottonwood are in the 5 to 10” range, Little Cottonwood 3 to 6 “, with best guesses for the Provo and Ogden mountains at 6 to 10”.   Yesterday’s strong, southwesterly winds have decreased this morning into the 15 to 25 mph range, though this reprieve is very temporary.  The winds will return with a vengeance this afternoon and tonight, and make yesterday’s wind speeds look like light summer breezes.  Temperatures are currently in the mid teens to low 20’s.   Wind sheltered terrain is harder to find, but still has good, deep powder.


Avalanche Conditions:

There was one skier triggered slide reported yesterday on Figure 8 hill in the Brighton backcountry.  It was a 1 to 1 ½ foot deep wind slab on a northeast facing, 35 degrees slope at about 9,800’.  The skier was knocked down, but then got out to the side.  Several people reported seeing small wind slabs that released naturally in Big Cottonwood and Mill Creek.  These were described as shallow pockets, many on northeasterly facing slopes.   With increasing winds, the greatest avalanche danger will continue be on steep, recently wind loaded slopes, especially along the higher ridges and in big open bowls.  Cornices will be very sensitive.  As you travel, look for and avoid any slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  Last night’s snow is now hiding these wind drifts, making them harder to see, but they will be most common on north, northeast, and easterly facing slopes.


Yesterday, one deeper release into old snow was reported from control work along the Park City ridgeline.  This slide was on a southeast facing slope, 3 to 4’deep, 150’ wide, and ran just above or on the brown dirt layer.  Slides breaking into deeper, pre-Christmas snow layers have now occurred in the Provo, Ogden, Uinta and Park City mountains.  As we once again put another big load on the snowpack, the potential for deeper slides increases. 


The avalanche danger will be increasing tonight and tomorrow at all elevations, including those below 7,000’, as the next round of wind and heavy snow arrives.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on steep, upper and mid elevation slopes, especially with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.   The danger is MODERATE on steep, sheltered slopes with no recent wind drifts.  And in wind sheltered terrain less steep than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is LOW.  The avalanche danger will be on the rise today through Friday, and we may issue an Avalanche Warning by midnight.


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


Mountain Weather:

Northern Utah will be under a moist, southwest flow today into tonight, with a vigorous cold front to cross the area early Friday morning.  The southwesterly winds will increase again today, and reach a crescendo by late this afternoon into tonight, with ridge top averages 40 to 60 mph, and gusts close to 100 mph.   Snow totals for today should be in the 2 to 6” range for the Salt Lake, Park City and Provo mountains, with 4 to 8” in the Ogden mountains.  10,000’ temperatures will remain in the mid teens today and tonight.  Heavy snowfall is expected for all areas tonight and tomorrow, with an additional 2 feet by Friday night.    The winds will decrease tomorrow as they shift to the northwest.  Unsettled weather will continue through the weekend.


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:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will probably not be flying today due to weather, but if they can they will be in Cardiff, Silver and Days drainages with a home run in Grizzly Gulch.


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. 


Andrew McLean will update this advisory on Friday 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: