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 2/24)

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/Avalanche_List.htm     (Updated 2/24)


Avalanche advisory

Thursday, February 26, 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 26, 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 in part by Black Diamond Equipment.


Current Conditions:

A strong Pacific storm system marching across the west arrived in northern Utah just before dawn, and current accumulations are 1 to 4” of 10% density snow.  The heaviest snowfall is expected late this afternoon through this evening.    Ahead of the storm, powerful southerly winds blasted the highest peaks all night, averaging 30 to 50 mph, with gusts 50 to 70 mph.  Even the normally sheltered mid and lower elevation terrain has wind speeds of 15 mph with gusts in the 30’s. Temperatures vary from the upper teens at 11,000’ warming to the low 30’s at 7,000’.  


The howling winds have created widespread areas of wind damage on all aspects and at most elevations.  Some slopes have been eroded down to old crusts, while other slopes are loaded with dense drifts and hard slabs.  Any remnants of soft snow will be found on the most sheltered, shady slopes, most likely at mid elevations.


Avalanche Conditions:

The avalanche danger is increasing.  By yesterday afternoon, the gusty, wild winds had already whipped up a batch of sensitive drifts.  They averaged 8 to 12” deep, and 40 to 140’ wide, they were easily ski cut.  There were also a few naturals reported from both the Provo and Salt Lake mountains.  After a night of more intense winds, these drifts will be even more widespread at both mid and upper elevations.  Strong winds create unusual loading patterns, so expect drifts well off ridgelines, on mid and lower slope breakovers, and around terrain features such as sub ridges and gully walls.   Some of these drifts will be dense, hard slabs that will let you get well out onto them before breaking out above you, and they are now hidden by the new snow.  Some slopes had preexisting hard, slick bed surfaces, many beneath the last storm, and slides may run faster and further than expected.


As snowfall continues today and tonight, natural avalanche will become possible.  With poor visibility today, backcountry travelers should have a good knowledge of the area they are traveling in and good route finding skills to avoid traveling under steep slopes.  With rain falling below about 7,000’ feet, wet sluffs will be possible at low elevations today, and steep slopes and terrain traps should be avoided.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially with drifts of wind blown snow.  Considerable means human triggered slides are probable and natural avalanches possible.  The danger is MODERATE on wind drifted slopes of 30 to 35 degrees, and LOW on wind sheltered slopes less steep than about 30 degrees.


BOTTOM LINE FOR THE PROVO AREA MOUNTAINS: The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially with drifts of wind blown snow.  The danger will rise to HIGH this afternoon with the expected snow and continued winds.  Long running natural avalanches will be possible, and steep slopes and runout zones should be avoided.  People with out good route finding skills should avoid backcountry travel.    


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:

Northern Utah could be in for a prolong period of snow as an energetic low pressure system sends a series of shortwaves across the Great Basin through Saturday.  The first two shortwaves will cross northern Utah today and tonight.  For day, 4 to 9” of snow is expected, with the heaviest intensities this afternoon.  The rain/snow line will start around 7,000’, then gradually drop this afternoon, reaching the valley floor by tonight.  The southwesterly winds will continue to be strong today, in the 30 to 40 mph range, with gusts in the 60’s.  High temperatures will be in the low 20’s at 10,000’ and the near 30 at 8,000’.  Tonight, an additional foot of snow is expected, with the winds shifting to the west and decreasing.  Lows will be near 20.  A third piece of the storm is forecast to arrive late Friday into Saturday, for another round of snow.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will not be flying today.  Yesterday they flew in Cardiff, Mineral, Days, Grizzly and Cascade.


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 Friday morning.

Thanks for calling.