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

Thursday, January 29, 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 Thursday, January 29, 2004, and it’s 7:30 a.m. 


Provo Canyon will have intermittent closures this morning, starting at 10:30 for highway control work near the Deer Creek Dam and American Fork Canyon will remain closed until further notice.  Due to warm weather, ice climbers should use caution when climbing in Provo Canyon, especially in the Fang area.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s micro storm spit out a trace of light density new snow.  At the upper elevations, westerly winds have pushed it around a bit, with overnight gusts in the mid 30 mph range and averages of about 10 mph.  Sad but true, today will be warm and misty, with light precipitation and daytime temperatures above freezing at 8,000’.  The snowline is currently at 6,000’ with a light freezing rain glaze reported at up to 7,500’.  Despite this, the backcountry has generally good conditions, but you’ll have to put up with bumping off the bottom in places and be content with knee dustings instead of face shots.


Avalanche Conditions:

The snowpack seems to be in a state of suspended anticipation, just waiting for something to happen, or not happen.  Cracking and collapsing is still common, especially on the flats and along ridges. Yesterday there were three reports of small intentional human triggered avalanches and one large slide in the Tuscarora area, which illustrates the delicate balance we now have.  Starting from a slope cut on a steep upper elevation, wind loaded ridge, the Tuscarora slide stepped down into deeper snow and produced a dangerous avalanche with an 18” crown line.  While it may not be obvious, we have been incrementally adding water weight to the snowpack since January 24th through a series of sporadic storms. This new load is running a close race with the snowpack’s ability to adjust to it, and right now the snowpack is winning, but not by much.  A key player in this scenario is the wind, which can transport up to ten times the amount of fallen snow and quickly load unlikely areas.  This will be especially critical in upper elevation, wind exposed areas where large drifts can quickly develop.


In general terms, the snowpack is stable, but untrustworthy.  Staying in lower angle terrain, paying attention to where the wind has been loading slopes and avoiding blatant terrain traps will be prudent until the weather decides which way it’s going to go.  High winds or larger than expected snowfall will easily aggravate the stability.


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, with human triggered avalanches being possible.  Particularly avoid any slope with recent 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:

This morning will start out misty and mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and then clear in the afternoon as a high pressure ridge fills in aloft.  Daytime 8,000’ temperatures will be right around freezing with a moderate wind out of the northwest.  This evening will be partly cloudy with lows around 22 degrees and the wind backing overnight from northerly to southwest.  On Friday, a cold front is expected with temperatures starting in the lower 30’s and then dropping down into the teens by the end of the day, accompanied by a period of snow with accumulations possible.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not operate yesterday and today they will be flying in Silver, Days, Cardiff, Mineral and American Fork canyons, with home 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. 


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory Friday morning.

Thanks for calling.