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 2/18)

Photos sent in by observers throughout the season visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/obphotos/observer.html      (Updated 2/18)

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/Avalanche_List.htm     (Updated 2/18)


Avalanche advisory

Thursday, February 19, 2004,   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, February 19, 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.


American Fork Canyon will be closed again this morning and will be closed indefinitely. 


Current Conditions:

The heavy rain overnight in the valleys added even more water to our soggy low elevation snow.   This morning, the rain-snow line has lowered to the valley floor and overnight the Cottonwood Canyons have picked up just a couple inches of snow and the Ogden and Logan area mountains have picked up 3-6 inches.  Yesterday, the ridge top winds gusted 40-70 mph from the south but they have died down and are switching to the northwest this morning.  Likewise, the temperatures yesterday were 40-50 at 8,000’ and this morning, most stations have cooled into the mid 20’s.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday was a schizophrenic day with wet slides down low and wind slabs up high.  I have photos on the web if you’re interested.  But the main problem was the wet slides.  There was widespread wet sluffs yesterday on many of the steep slopes up to 8,000’ in elevation, with many leaving debris piles deep enough to really ruin your day.  American Fork canyon is still closed this morning from wet slides and most of the other canyons had snow on or near the roads yesterday.  There was a couple reports of wet sluffs covering recent snowshoe and ski tracks.  With soaking rain overnight at lower elevations, the snow below about 7,500’ should still be very soggy this morning and it will take a few more hours before the colder temperatures calm down the wet activity at lower elevation.  This morning, you should continue to avoid steep lower elevation slopes and terrain traps until things freeze up later in the day.


The second problem is that yesterday’s very strong ridge top winds created localized areas of wind slabs.   For instance, yesterday in the Provo area mountains, I was able to intentionally ski cut a fresh, hard wind slab on a steep breakover about a foot deep and 40 feet wide.  Although they are fairly localized, you will find them on many of the upper elevation, wind exposed slopes, especially on north through east facing slopes.  Remember that the new snow will cover them up so they will be harder to see, but you can recognize them by their smooth, rounded shape and hollow sound.  The slabs are very hard so they will tend to break up above you instead of at your feet.  Since they were deposited warm and it’s cooling down quickly, they should settle out fairly quickly during the day.


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

On steep slopes below about 7,500’ the danger of wet sluffs will be considerable again this morning lowering to LOW this afternoon as the snowpack freezes up.  On upper elevation wind exposed terrain, you will find a MODERATE danger of hard wind slabs on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.


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:

Snow should end today by noon in most areas leaving us with 3-6 inches of fresh snow, but it could linger until mid afternoon in the Cottonwoods with a foot of snow.  Ridgetop temperatures should remain around 20 today with ridge to winds from the northwest and north around 15 mph.  We should have clear skies tonight with ridge top winds from the east.  Then we should have splitting system for Saturday with most of the energy going south of us but it should bring some moist air from the south and give us a few more light snow showers.  The extended forecast calls for more of the same with unsettled weather with light snow showers with ridge top winds from the south for the next week or so.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides were grounded yesterday and, weather permitting, they will fly 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.