Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Saturday, January 24, 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 Saturday, January 24, 2004, and its 7:30 a.m.

 

This is Backcountry Awareness Week. Today and Sunday there will be a series of avalanche and backcountry survival classes at Snowbird. For details on these and other events visit www.backcountryawareness.com.

 

Current Conditions:

There is finally a change is in the air, with the cold front currently in the Pacific Northwest forecast to reach northern Utah by this evening. Ahead of the front, skies are partly cloudy this morning, and winds are increasing. They are from a westerly direction, in the 15 to 25 mph range, with gusts into the 40s. The hourly averages across the highest peaks are 35 to over 40 mph. Temperatures are in the mid to upper 20s. Wind sheltered, shady, low traffic slopes still have soft, recrystalized snow, but much of the terrain has been hammered into a hard surface by the sun, wind or people.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

For today, the snowpack continues to be mostly stable, and the greatest danger will be the winds drifts that are forming at mid and upper elevations. While I expect these winds drifts to be shallow and small, they will be sensitive and any recent winds drift should be avoided on steep slopes.

 

Were entering the storm cycle with a widespread layer of weak, near surface facets on the snow surface, with pockets of surface hoar. In some areas, the weakest snow is on the shady slopes at mid to low elevations. It is important to note that once you get out of the Salt Lake and Park City mountains, the Ogden, Provo and Uinta mountains have a weaker snowpack, with a thicker layer of near surface facets and more wide spread surface hoar, both of which extend over ridge crests and to higher elevations. Todays moderate to strong winds could be helpful in destroying some of this weak surface snow.

 

We may have an unusual avalanche pattern developing, with the weakest snow at the mid to lower elevations, on mid slope rollovers, and in wind sheltered terrain. Another complicating factor is that the stability will differ greatly between the heavily boarded, skied, and snow machined slopes throughout the range and the less traveled slopes. Tomorrow, plan to keep your slope angles low and use test slopes to investigate the new instabilities.

 

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

The avalanche danger is low today, and human triggered avalanche are unlikely. But as always, avoid any recent deposits of wind drifted snow. With wind and snow in the forecast, the avalanche danger may rise significantly tonight and tomorrow.

 

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

 

Mountain Weather:

The incoming Pacific cold front should reach the area around midnight, with the best threat of snow along and behind the front on Sunday. Winds today will be in the 15 to 30 mph range, from a westerly direction. Highs will be in the upper 30s at 8,000 and the low 20s at 10,000. Light snowfall may start by late afternoon, and continue through Sunday. The Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden mountains could receive 10 to 16 inches of cold, low density snow. The Provo area mountains should receive up to a foot of new snow. Then a moist west northwest flow will set up over northern Utah through the end of next week, with periods of snow likely.

 

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

 

General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in White Pine, Mineral, Cardiff, Porter, Cascade, and Mill Canyon Peak yesterday. Today, weather permitting, they will be in American Fork and Cascade, with home runs in White Pine.

 

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

 

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center are offering a three day avalanche class February 14-16. For more information or to sign up, contact Black Diamond Equipment at (801) 278-0233. 2092 E. 3900 S.

 

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

 

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory Sunday morning.

Thanks for calling.

 

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