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

Friday, February 06, 2004,   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, February 06, 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 over the past few days has brought some impressive storm totals in the 2-2.5’ range in Big and Little Cottonwood, with a foot in the outlying areas south of I-80.   Turning and riding conditions are excellent and one guy in Little Cottonwood who’ll forget more about avalanches than I’ll ever learn told me it was the best skiing in the past couple of years.  Under clear skies, temperatures have plummeted into the single digits at both 8 and 10,000’.  The winds have remained light out of the northwest.  The sun was able to poke through the instability showers yesterday, so you’ll find a slight crust on the south and southwest aspects buried a few inches down.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, three avalanches were triggered that broke into old snow, with the end result of skiers taking rides into trees and one being buried up to his neck.   Fortunately, no one was greatly injured in the events.  All of the slides were reported to be mid and upper elevation northerly slopes 1-3’ deep and 50-200’ wide, running on the buried facets formed on the surface of the snow during the mid January high pressure.  The first slide was a hard slab 1-3’ deep and 50’ wide, triggered by explosives in a closed area in the Park City resort that propagated higher than expected and onto a 30 degrees slope.  This exemplifies the classic problem of a hard slab/persistent weak layer combination in its ability to pull out lower angled slopes and break higher on the slope than usual.  Another, in upper Powder Park of Mill D north, a backcountry party triggered a slab that broke into old snow, reporting it to be 2-3’ deep and 200’ wide.  And the last was a ski cut in upper Big Cottonwood that pulled out a small 12’ pocket that broke 2’ deep into old snow.  Collapsing in the snow at the mid-elevations is still being reported as well, more signs from the snowpack that things are on edge.  So, it’s been a little unsettling how we’ve been teetering in the balance with our buried weak layers where it just hasn’t seen the load to make for an avalanche cycle.  But clearly, with the snow adding up, some areas are beginning to be reactive.  


So, it may be that these problems for now will be confined to the mid elevation northwest through southeast facing slopes that have seen a foot or more snow in the past few days.  Remember that hard slabs may break above you while you’re already committed to the slope and wrap around to adjacent lower angled slopes.  Sticking to moderate slopes and traveling one at a time should be the plan for today.  Lastly, sluffing in the low density snow can still be expected on the steep northerly facing aspects as well as a rising danger of wet activity on the sunny slopes by about midday. 


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

The avalanche danger is moderate on northwest through southeast facing slopes at the mid elevations.  The danger of both wet and dry sluffs will rise to MODERATE.


Bottom Line for the provo MOUNTAINS and OGden mountains:

In these areas the received less snow, 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:

It’ll be mostly sunny today with light winds out of the northwest.  8000’ temps will be near 30 with 10000’ temps in the teens.  We’ll see increasing clouds tonight and backing winds ahead of a strong cold front expected by tomorrow afternoon that looks like it could dump 12-18” by late Sunday.  A moist unstable north-northwest flow could keep things snowy into early next week.  


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday, but today will be in Cardiff, Days, Mineral, Silver, White Pine, American Fork, and Cascade ridge.


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 Saturday morning.

Thanks for calling.