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/

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day free of charge, click HERE.

For photos of avalanches and avalanche phenomenon, click HERE.

Photos sent in by observers throughout the season click HERE.

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, click HERE.



Avalanche advisory

Tuesday, January 27, 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 Tuesday, January 27, 2004, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


Current Conditions:

We had a break in the storm cycle yesterday with only a trace of new snow being reported in scattered areas.  Last night was calm, clear and cold, with the 8,000’ lows dipping down into the single and even negative digits.  Today will start out clear and sunny and then deteriorate in the afternoon ahead of a weak Pacific storm that should arrive tonight.  Winds will build throughout the day, becoming strong from the west by this evening. Turning and riding conditions in the settled powder are above average, with trail breaking being a chore in wind drifted areas. 


Avalanche Conditions:

Although we are out of the natural avalanche activity cycle, human triggered slides will be quite possible to trigger today.  Almost all reports from the backcountry yesterday observed some cracking and collapsing in recent deposits of wind drifted snow, especially at higher elevations and on east facing slopes.


We currently have a tricky pattern of instabilities in the mountains.  Our last storm came in cold with strong winds from the north, which is slightly unusual for the Wasatch mountains.  It then fell on a variety of old snow surfaces with varying degrees of bonding.  To add to the puzzle, in popular areas that had been tracked up before the storm, the weak recrystalized powder had been broken up enough to facilitate a good bond with the new snow, whereas untracked areas are still touchy.  These areas are now covered up and unless you are intimately familiar the terrain and traffic patterns, it will be hard to distinguish them.  In lower elevation areas, there was wide spread activity on the buried surface hoar, which so far seems to be of small consequence due less snow falling at those elevations.  Test pit results vary widely and cornices stomps range from easy to impossible, but are generally not producing results


All of this means that it is still a good time to be on guard while traveling in the mountains.  You will want to continue to carefully watch your slope angles, avoid recent deposits of wind drifted snow and stay out of terrain traps.  The cold temperatures mean there is plenty of good powder on sheltered, lower angle slopes.  If you avoid the extreme ends of either high or low elevations and stick to the mid elevations, the snow will be more stable.


A major contributor to this current state of stability is that the new snow has just barely added enough weight to get things moving.  With this afternoons expected new snow and increasing winds, it might be enough to tip the scales.    


Bottom Line for the Wasatch Range, including the Salt Lake AND Park City, ogden and provo MOUNTAINS:

On slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, especially at upper elevations and in steep lower elevation terrain, the avalanche danger is moderate and may rise to considerable with increasing wind and snow.  On mid elevation, sheltered slopes less steep than 35 degrees, the 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:

Starting out clear and cold this morning, the daytime highs are expected to be around 20 degrees in the mountains with strong ridgetop winds out of the west.  This will change mid day, as a weak Pacific storm moves in from Nevada and brings with it 1-3” of snow with increasing winds.  This system will continue through the night with storm totals of 3” to 7” likely by tomorrow.  Wednesday will be mostly cloudy with a 50% chance of snow and temperatures right around 20 degrees throughout the day.  


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday and today they will be in American Fork, Mineral, Cardiff, Days and Silver Fork, with return runs in Grizzly Gulch.


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.  Tickets are now available at Kingsbury Hall, REI, The Outdoor Recreation Program or any Art-Tix Outlet.  For more 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 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 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. 


Evelyn Lees will update this advisory Wednesday morning.

Thanks for calling.