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:



To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day free of charge, visit: http://www.mailermailer.com/x?oid=16351h.                 

For photos of avalanches and avalanche phenomenon, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/photos_03-04.htm      (Updated 2/12)

Photos sent in by observers throughout the season visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/obphotos/observer.html.      (Updated 2/12)

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/Avalanche_List.htm.     (Updated 2/12)


Avalanche advisory

Tuesday, February 17, 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 Tuesday, February 17, 2004, and it’s 7:30 a.m.  This forecast is brought to you in partnership with the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, supported by the Uinta Brewing Company.


Current Conditions:

Skies are partly to mostly cloudy this morning and it looks like we picked up another trace of snow around midnight.  The temps have been on the rise through the night and are in the low 30’s at 10,000’.  Winds are west to southwest in the 15-20 mph range with the most exposed stations reading 30 mph with gusts just above 40.  The warm temps from yesterday dampened all snow surfaces up to about 7500’ and so the acreage of best turning and riding conditions will have shrunk to northerly slopes above 8000’.  If you’ve ever wondered why they have a Powder magazine and not a Breakable Crust magazine, today might be the day to find out.


Avalanche Conditions:

With yesterday’s heating and warm temperatures, wet point release activity became common even at the mid and low elevation northerly slopes.  Literally, you ran the risk of triggering dry loose snow sluffs in the steep northerly shots and then triggering wet loose snow sluffs as you dropped in elevation.  So with warmer temps expected, you’ll find a replay of this today.  There are potentially three other problems …as we discussed a few days ago, warmer temps can increase the creep and glide downhill in the snowpack while also ‘softening’ the slab above a weak layer.  Both of these may conspire to allow a slab avalanche to be triggered in isolated terrain, such as in rocky shallow areas or terrain that has much weaker snow, like that along the south end of the Park City ridgeline, the Uinta’s, or the Provo mountains.  Doing multiple hasty pits should give you some indication of the snowpack you’re moving through: if, by isolating a column and the slab pops out ‘clean’ and ‘fast’ with little effort, it might be best to kick turn onto another slope.


Glide avalanches in Broad’s or Stairs Gulch may be a problem for today as well.  And lastly, just for good measure - if it’s going to be warm, at least it’s going to be windy.  The southwest winds are expected to increase into the 40-50mph range by afternoon, with gusts into the 70’s.  Be on the lookout for new wind drifts developing and avoid any new rounded, pillowy drifts on the lee of ridgelines.



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

In the central core of the Salt Lake and Park City Wasatch mountains, the avalanche danger is generally LOW, with only isolated areas where a person could trigger a slide.  The danger of triggering wet sluffs will rise to MODERATE.  As you travel toward the periphery of the Salt Lake and Park City mountains, and into the Provo and Uinta mountains, the avalanche danger is moderate on north through east facing slopes, steeper than about 35 degrees. 


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

Logan: click HERE or call 435-797-4146


Mountain Weather:

A dirty ridge will be over northern Utah today through Wednesday, with lots of mid and high level clouds moving through.  Today, winds will shift from the west to the southwest, and increase by late afternoon to the 40’s and 50’s with gusts near 70.  Temperatures will be in the mid forties at 8000’ and mid to upper 30’s at 10,000’.    A storm with associated cold front should move through Wednesday night into Thursday.  Most of the energy of the storm will push south of us, but we should get something less than a foot.


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


General Information:

Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cascade Ridge and the Bountiful Sessions.  Today they’ll be grounded due to weather.


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 Wednesday morning.

Thanks for calling.