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

sUNDAY, January 4, 2004   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, January 4, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  On an avalanche community side note, next time you see a DOT worker or ski patroller, tell them thanks – they’ve worked hard since Christmas with little sleep to keep the roads and ski areas safe.


For photos of avalanches and avalanche phenomenon, click HERE.

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, click HERE.


Current Conditions:

With a brief clearing, temperatures have plummeted to below zero at most mountain locations this morning and we’re expecting highs at zero degrees for the day.  New snow in the last 24 hours in the Cottonwoods added up to about 6-12” of 4% density.  Outlying areas picked up 1-4” of the cold smoke.  Winds have been averaging 15mph out of the northwest, with the speeds in the low twenties at 11,000’.   Turning and riding conditions are excellent within the light density snow on a supportable base.


Avalanche Conditions:

As the stability has increased and trailbreaking has become less ridiculous, folks are finally starting to push further into the range.  Old crowns and debris piles tell the story from the past week, but yesterday, backcountry travelers and ski patrol workers only reported sluffing in the new snow with the old wind slabs firmly welded in place.  What’s kept us on edge are the reports on Friday of both control work pulling out into old snow at the highest elevations along the AF ridgeline and then a head scratching cornice drop in upper Cardiff Fork pulling out a 2’ deep slab that was reported to have broken on facets above the December 14th wind event.  So, many are reluctant to hit the steepest lines and center-punch the exposed open bowls and it’s hard to blame them.  For today though, we’ll have a couple of problems to keep in mind.  First, keep an eye on the extent of the sluffing that will occur on the steepest slopes in the new density snow and then for any new shallow soft slabs just on the lee of the ridgelines.   It doesn’t take much to blow 4% density around, and while these will be shallow, it’s likely they’ll be sensitive to the weight of a person.  Lastly, it might still be possible to pull out a stubborn wind slab, in terrain isolated to the steepest slopes in the highest elevations.  Stick with safe travel protocol and an eye on slope angles.


If you’re headed outside of the Salt Lake area mountains, we think the avalanche danger is a notch higher on the scale because the snowpack there was relatively thin and weak before the big storms started on Christmas.  In the Logan, Ogden, Uinta, Provo and Wasatch Plateau, all the new snow has nearly tripled the snow depth, whereas in the Salt Lake area mountains, the new snow has barely doubled the total snow depth. 


Bottom Line for the Wasatch Range, including the Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden and Provo Mountains:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, meaning there’s localized places where you can trigger an avalanche.  On slopes less than 30 degrees, the avalanche danger is LOW.


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


Mountain Weather:

Today, we’ll see mostly cloudy skies and showery weather that could produce a few inches of snow today.  Winds should be 10-20mph from the northwest and temperatures should peak at zero degrees.  High pressure should move in by tomorrow with occasional disturbances through the week.


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 have a ship in American Fork and another ship in upper Lambs canyon today.


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 tomorrow 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: