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

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


For photos of avalanches and avalanche phenomenon, click HERE.

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, click HERE.


Current Conditions:

A weak storm system is enveloping the northern Wasatch this morning, and light snowfall has just started.  The southwesterly winds picked up before midnight, and are in the 10 to 20 mph range at the more sheltered mountain stations.  Across the highest peaks, the winds are blasting in the 30 to 50 mph range, with gusts into 60’s.  Temperatures are in the upper teens at 10,000’.  Turning and riding conditions will be a bit variable in wind affected terrain today, with wind thickened snow and fresh wind drifts to trip you up, but will continue to be excellent on more wind sheltered slopes.  There may be a slight crust on some of the south and southeasterly facing slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, while most of the older wind drifts were labeled stubborn and plenty of steep lines were skied and boarded, there was scattered avalanche activity throughout the range.  In the central Wasatch backcountry, people were able to trigger soft slabs and sluffs, 6 to 12” deep, and up to 30’ across – just big enough to take you for a ride.  Down in the Provo mountains, a skier had a small hard slab break out above him on a 40 degrees test slope.  It was about 50’ wide, up to 10” deep, on a northeast facing slope.  Control work in upper Little Cottonwood triggered just one larger hard slab on a very heavily wind loaded slope.


Today, once again, fresh drifts of wind blown snow are going to be the greatest avalanche concern.  The most widespread and largest wind drifts will be along the highest ridgelines.  Along these ridges, multiple layers of wind slabs exist, and there is a possibility of triggering one of the older wind slabs, which would result in a wider, deeper slide.  Off the highest ridges and peaks, the wind drifts will be shallower and more isolated, but should still be avoided on slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper.  Watch for the drifting of snow around sub ridges, gully walls and midslope breakovers.  Cornices are continuing to grow, and should be given a wide berth as they may break out larger than expected.


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

Along the highest peaks and ridges, slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with recent wind drifts have a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger.  Once below this windy, isolated, upper elevation terrain, slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with recent wind drifts have a MODERATE danger, with human triggered avalanches possible.  And in the abundant, wind sheltered terrain and on lower angle slopes, the avalanche danger is LOW and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.


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


Mountain Weather:

A relatively weak but moist weather system will move through the region today.  Snowfall could become heavy at times, with 3 to 6” of snow possible today, and another 3 to 4” tonight. The southwesterly winds will remain in the 20 to 30 mph range with strong gusts this morning, and then decrease as they shift to the northwest late this afternoon.  Highs today will be upper teens at 10,000’.  Temperatures will remain in the upper teens tonight, with light to moderate northwest winds.  Light snow is possible into early Thursday morning, before a high pressure ridge moves over the area through Friday.  The next chance for snow will be on Saturday.  


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:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Mineral, Cardiff and American Fork yesterday, and if weather allows they will be in Cardiff, Days and Silver Fork today with homeruns 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).


Avalanche Awareness Week is January 18-24th and there are a number of events and presentations.  For complete details, visit:  www.backcountryawareness.com


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 Thursday morning.

Thanks for calling.