Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

thursday, January 22, 2004†† 7:30 am


Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Thursday, January 22, 2004, and itís 7:30 a.m.


This is Backcountry Awareness Week.There will be a fund raiser dinner at Snowbird this Friday, where Governor Olene Walker will speak and Andrew McLean will show slides from his various skiing expeditions.Also on Saturday and Sunday, there will be a series of avalanche and backcountry survival classes.For details on other events and presentations visit www.backcountryawareness.com.


Current Conditions:

I know it seems longer, but it has been exactly two weeks since weíve had any snow in the mountains.Up above the depressing valley fog, the relentless sun and clear skies have created some thick sun crusts on the southerly facing slopes while the sun and wind sheltered slopes continue to have surprisingly good turning and riding conditions, that is, if you can find something that isnít completely tracked up.Most of the popular backcountry slopes now look like a ski area and people have been exploring lots of the steep, dangerous lines and out of the way places that weíve all been too scared to touch these past few years.Today and tomorrow will probably be the last chance to enjoy these stable conditions because it looks like we will finally blow out the valley smog and get snow in the mountains on Saturday night.††


Avalanche Conditions:

Although the snow is quite stable right now, we have widespread areas of very weak faceted snow on the snow surface, which is almost certain to produce very sensitive and persistently unstable avalanches if we get a significant load on top of it. This weak snow exists mostly on the northwest, north, northeast and east facing slopes at lower and mid elevations. I donít know about you, but Iím going to get out for a long tour tomorrow and carefully map where all the weak snow exists, so I will know where I can go without getting killed once it starts snowing again. In my dreams, Iím hoping for rain and wind to destroy the weak snow on the surface before it starts snowing, but I donít think I will get my wish. Right now, the storm looks like it will come in cool and calm and bury all the layers intact.


Bottom Line for the Wasatch Range, including the Salt Lake, Park City, PROVO, and Ogden MOUNTAINS:

The avalanche danger is low today throughout the northern Wasatch on all aspects and elevations with human triggered slab avalanches unlikely, but the avalanche danger will almost certainly rise dramatically over the weekend.


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


Mountain Weather:

Sunny and warmer today with light ridgetop winds from the north and temperatures in the mid to upper 20ís. Down at 8,000í the temperatures should be around 40 with overnight lows in the mid 20ís. On Friday, we should have some increasing high clouds with ridge top temperatures rising to near freezing and ridge top winds turning southwest but remaining light. Then, light snow should begin Saturday morning with the main inversion-busting cold front arriving Saturday evening and continuing to snow on Sunday. For the rest of the week, it looks like we will keep a cold, unstable northwesterly flow with continued pulses of snow.


For specific digital forecasts for the Salt Lake, Provo or Ogden mountains, CLICK HERE.


General Information:

Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork and Red Baldy. Today, they will have one early landing in upper White Pine, but otherwise will fly in the American Fork drainage and Cascade Ridge area near Provo.


The Banff Film Festival, a benefit for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, is coming up next month Ė February 9th and 10th at Kingsbury Hall.For ticket information, call Rob at the U of U Outdoor Program at 581-8516.


If you are getting into the backcountry, please give us a call and let us know what youíre 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 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 Friday morning.

Thanks for calling.