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, February 04, 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, February 04, 2004, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  


The Banff Film Festival, a benefit for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, is on 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.


Current Conditions:

A cold northerly flow is now over northern Utah, and light snowfall is continuing this morning.  24 hour snow totals are in the 2 to 6” range, and storm totals since Monday night are 4 to 8” in the Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden mountains.  The Provo mountains received close to a foot at 8,000’, and the upper elevations in the Uintas over 1 ½ feet.   Yesterday’s southerly winds were strong for a while, in the 25 to 30 mph range, with gusts 35 to 45 mph.  The winds dropped off rapidly yesterday afternoon, and are currently from a northwesterly direction, less than 10 mph.  Temperatures are in the 10 to 15 degree range at 10,000’.   Out of the wind affected terrain, turning and riding conditions are excellent in the light powder snow.


Avalanche Conditions:

Avalanche activity was quite mixed yesterday due to wide variations in the snow and wind.  On slopes loaded by the strong southerly winds, very sensitive wind drifts one to two feet deep were easily released by ski cuts, and were running far and entraining a lot of snow.  On the Park City side of the range, 2 larger sized naturals occurred on a very heavily wind loaded, northeast facing slope at 7,800’.  They were about 1’ deep and a couple hundred feet wide.  Off the most heavily wind loaded slopes, people were only triggering smaller shallow soft wind slabs, less than 50’ wide that were running short distances.   Yesterday’s windslabs will once again be hidden by today’s new snow and be tricky to identify.  Cornices are getting almost too large to kick in places and can break back further than expected.


I am still suspicious of on the more deeply buried weak layers in our upper snow pack.  This week’s gradual loading has generally allowed the faceted layers to adjust to the new weight.  If one of these deeper layers was triggered today, it would be by a large trigger such as several people on a slope at the same time or the weight from a shallower slide.    


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

On heavily wind drifted slopes steeper than 35 degrees, the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE.  Most other slopes steeper than about 35 degrees have moderate danger.   On slopes less steep than about 35 degrees, the danger is low.


Bottom Line for the provo MOUNTAINS:

In the Provo area mountains, the avalanche danger is considerable on all slopes steeper than 35 degrees, especially with recent drifts of wind blown snow, and the avalanche danger increases with elevation.  Considerable means natural avalanches are possible, and human triggered slides probable.  The avalanche danger is moderate on wind sheltered slopes less steep than 35 degrees.


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


Mountain Weather:

A cold, northerly flow will be over the area through Thursday night.  This will give the mountains mostly cloudy skies with periods of light snow.  An additional 3 to 5 inches are possible today and another 1 to 3” tonight.  Winds should remain light from the north, in the 10 to 20 mph range.  High temperatures today will be in the mid teens at 10,000’ and near 20 at 8,000’.  Another Pacific storm is on the way for Friday night and Saturday.


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 if they can fly today will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, White Pine, and American Fork.


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. 


I will update this advisory Thursday morning.

Thanks for calling.