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

Friday, January 2, 2004   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 Friday, January 2, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Current Conditions:

We have issued an avalanche warning for the northern Utah mountains today, including the Wasatch, Uinta and Bear River ranges.  With the recent snowfall and high winds, there will be widespread avalanche danger, even at lower elevations.


Yesterday’s prefrontal SW winds howled at a steady 30 - 50 mph at most elevations with gusts up to 106 mph at the most exposed ridgetop station.   Veteran backcountry users were hard pressed to remember a windier time and you could see large plumes of snow being blown around as low down as the foothills above town.  Storm totals added 8-12” of new snow to the plot and we now have a well developed winter storm with powerful avalanche potential.  The new snow on top of yesterday’s wind slabs should improve the turning and riding conditions.


Avalanche Conditions:

There were numerous reports of natural, human triggered and explosive control work avalanches yesterday and some very experienced people were having close calls.  In the Salt Lake Valley, two hikers triggered a slide in a foothills behind the University of Utah.  This was a small avalanche with no injuries, but it illustrates the unusual nature of the current conditions. The strong winds have not only loaded upper elevation slopes, but mid and lower elevations as well.  Although they blew predominately from the SW there is extensive cross loading and wind deposits on many aspects and in unusual places. The open upper elevations have been hit the hardest, but even low lying areas have experienced small, natural wind slab releases.  A big problem today is that the new snow will cover up yesterday’s dangerous wind slabs making them hard to see.  We call this “sucker snow” because it can sucker you into jumping onto something you should avoid.  So, you will need to wear your x-ray goggles.  Look for smooth, rounded snow underneath the new snow that feels slabby and sometimes sounds hollow.


Today you should pick very conservative routes that stick to gentle slopes or ridgelines with no open slopes above you.  Remember that even playing in the foothills behind your house could be potentially very dangerous.  Also, watch out for cornices as they will break back further than you expect.


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

The avalanche danger is HIGH today on steep slopes with wind deposits where human triggered avalanches will be likely.  In sheltered, lower elevation areas with less steep slopes, there is a CONSIDERABLE danger and those without good avalanche skills should avoid the backcountry.


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


Mountain Weather:

Most of the snow should end by about 9:00 this morning.  We’ll have a break in the action during mid day, then it will resume tonight as colder, unstable air arrives.  Winds will remain in the 20 mph range this morning, with temperatures in the high teens.  Starting this evening, the temperature will drop as the winds decrease and shift to the west/NW. This moist system will linger through the weekend with scattered showers and single digit temperatures.


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.


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. 


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory on Saturday 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: