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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For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, click HERE.






Avalanche advisory

Thursday, February 05, 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 Thursday, February 05, 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:

The moist northwest flow that is lingering over northern Utah is turning into a Little Cottonwood and Uinta mountains event.  In the last 24 hours, the Uintas and Little Cottonwood have received 12 to 22 inches of very low density fluff, averaging less than 5%.  Their storm totals since Monday afternoon are 1 ½ to over 2’ of snow with about an inch of water.  Big Cottonwood storm totals are about a foot to a foot and ½, the Provo mountains about a foot, and the Park City and Ogden mountains at less than 8 inches.  The northwesterly winds picked up overnight across the highest ridges, and are averaging about 15 mph, with gusts near 25.  Once off the higher ridgelines, the winds are generally less than 10 mph.   Over the head and over the hood conditions will be wide spread in the Uintas and Little Cottonwood on all aspects.  Through out the rest of the range, the best turning conditions will be found on shady, wind sheltered slopes. 


Avalanche Conditions:

The only avalanche activity reported from Tuesday’s few field observations were loose snow sluffs on steep slopes.  Most people felt the wind slabs from the strong southerly winds have settled out and are no longer sensitive. 


Today, the big change is the increased wind speeds.  The 15 to 20 mph speeds along the highest ridges are just perfect to start blowing and drifting the light density snow.  In the Cottonwoods, which have received the most snow, I would expect widespread sensitive wind drifts in wind affected terrain, with the deepest drifts along the upper ridgelines of Little Cottonwood.  Cornices could be large and sensitive, and break back further than expected. Out of the wind affected terrain, expect moderate to large loose snow sluffs on steep slopes. 


Much of the terrain in the Salt Lake and Park City mountains has received less than a foot of snow and is wind sheltered.  In these areas the avalanche danger is much lower, and most activity should be limited to sluffing on steep slopes.   So if you’re heading into the backcountry today, constantly evaluate the depth of snow and the winds in the areas where you are.  If the snow is starting to blow around, avoid any new drifts on steep slopes. 


There is still a slight chance of triggering one of the more deeply buried weak layers, with a large trigger such as several people on a slope at the same time or the weight from a shallower new snow slide.   


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

The avalanche danger is Considerable on steep, upper elevation, wind drifted slopes in Big and Little Cottonwood.  In the areas that have received less snow and wind, the avalanche danger is moderate on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, for both loose sluffs and shallow soft slabs.  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:

The upper level low is now over southeastern Wyoming, and is continuing to inch its way slowly eastward.  This will keep northern Utah under a moist northerly wrap around flow through around noon.  Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy today, with another 2 to 4” of snow expected in the Cottonwoods today.  Areas not favored by northwest flow will receive a trace to 2 inches.  The northerly winds will in the 15 to 20 mph range across the higher ridges.  Highs today will be in the upper teens at 8,000’ and near 10 at 10,000’.  A brief ridge will build in over the area Friday, with mostly sunny skies and slightly warming temperatures.  This will be followed by another storm for Saturday into Sunday.


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. 


Andrew McLean will update this advisory Friday morning.

Thanks for calling.