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 28, 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 28, 2004, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


Current Conditions:

A very weak disturbance is moving through the area this morning, producing light snow, and the mountains have a fresh dusting of 2 to 4”.  Winds are from a westerly direction, and have decreased to about 10 mph.  Only the higher peaks have hourly averages of 20 mph or more.  Temperatures are in the upper teens to low 20’s.  Sunday’s snow has become quite slabby and punchy, creating less than perfect snowshoeing, skiing and boarding conditions.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, stronger winds in the Ogden mountains showed how rapidly the balance can be tipped with our current snow pack layering.  Along the highest ridges both natural and explosive triggered slides occurred on steep, wind loaded slopes.  These were soft slabs, often from cornice drops, 1 to 1 ˝’ deep and up to 75 feet wide.  In the Central Wasatch, yesterday’s better visibility allowed for the observation of 3 large naturals on East facing Kessler that probably occurred on Sunday.  Through out the rest of the range, there are continued reports of cracking and collapsing, with small steep test slopes releasing on the buried faceted layer. Quick hand pits and ski pole probes will easily find the faceted weak layer just below Sunday’s storm.


Many backcountry travelers are basically uncomfortable with the current snow pack layering – we have a very widespread, weak faceted snow layer efficiently buried and preserved under a decent slab.  I must say the current loading pattern makes me down right grumpy - Sunday’s storm was not large enough for widespread activity on the weak layer, and it seems we are just postponing the inevitable avalanche cycle.  For today, there are still areas where a person could trigger a slide - most likely on steep slopes that have been more heavily loaded by the wind, or had an originally weaker faceted layer, such as at more sheltered mid and lower elevations.  We are expecting a rising avalanche danger tonight into Thursday and again on Friday, with two strong wind events in the forecast.


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

On all slopes steeper than 35 degrees, the avalanche danger is moderate.  Moderate means human triggered avalanches are possible.   Particularly avoid any slope with wind drifts and steep terrain traps such as gullies.  On wind 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:

The current weak disturbance over northern Utah will shift east by this afternoon.  Light snow showers will continue this morning, with another inch or two of snow possible, followed by partial clearing this afternoon.  Winds today should be from a westerly direction, in the 20 to 25 mph range across the highest peaks.  Highs today will be near 30 at 8,000’ and in the upper teens at 10,000’.  A series of weak, but windy shortwaves will affect northern Utah over the next few days.  There should be strong, northwest winds by dawn on Thursday, with another windy, but mostly dry cold front Friday night.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides skied in American Fork, Cardiff, Days and Silver yesterday, and if they can fly today will be in American Fork, Mineral, Cardiff, Days, and Silver, with home runs in Grizzly Gulch or the Emmas.


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. 


We will update this advisory Thursday morning.

Thanks for calling.