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 2/27)

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 2/27)


Avalanche advisory

Saturday, February 28, 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 Saturday, February 28, 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:

The tune “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” keeps running through my head because that’s exactly the last time we had this much snow added over such a short time.  Plus, there’s the nagging reminder that we’ve also had avalanche fatalities during both storms. Thursday’s big storm laid down 1-2 feet of dense snow with 2 inches of water weight (3 inches on Ben Lomond Peak) and howling winds from the south and southeast.  It created fairly widespread areas of natural avalanches, especially on northwest facing slopes.  After a rest day yesterday, we’re back at it again.  About nine inches of light density snow fell overnight in most parts of the Provo and Salt Lake area mountains, on a southerly flow, with 5 inches in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Unita Mountains, Ogden and Logan area mountains.  The center of the low pressure center is going directly over the top of us this morning, so the winds are almost zero on the ridges with temperatures around 20 degrees.


Avalanche Conditions:

For the avalanche danger, imagine two humps on a camel’s back.  We reached the top of the first hump on Thursday afternoon and evening with an intense snow and wind storm.  Yesterday, we slid down between the two humps as the wind slabs had a chance to settle out a bit.  Today we’re rising up the side of the second hump and we should reach the top of the hump tonight and on Sunday after we have added another 1-2 feet of snow and another 1-2 inches of water weight.  As I’m so fond of saying, snow is just like people, it doesn’t like rapid changes and we are walloping the snowpack with a large and rapid change over a 4-day period, which is bound to make it cranky.  We also have two different kinds of snowpack in the northern Utah mountains, a deeper, stronger snowpack in most of the Wasatch Range and a shallower, weaker one on the eastern fringes of the Wasatch Range and in the Uinta Mountains and the Wasatch Plateau.  All the weight of new snow will cause more localized avalanche activity in the thick snowpack areas but it will cause much more widespread avalanche activity in the thinner, weaker snowpack areas with avalanches being larger and more dangerous.  Today, you will find delightful, light fluffy powder, which I call “sucker snow” in situations like this, because it can sucker you into jumping onto slopes steeper than you aught to be on. Today, you should continue to avoid jumping into or traveling beneath steep terrain, especially in the thinner snowpack areas. Also, today if the winds pick up, watch out for recent wind drifts.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE this morning, especially on steep slopes with deposits of wind drifted snow from Thursday’s storm and in thin snowpack areas.  The danger may rise to HIGH by Sunday morning as more snow accumulates.  Considerable means human triggered slides are probable and natural avalanches possible, and high means that both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely.  You can find plenty of areas with LOW avalanche danger today on slopes less steep than 30 degrees, which don’t have steeper slopes hanging above them.  


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:

As the low pressure center moves into Wyoming later today, it will wrap the winds around and they will come in from the north and northwest, which should give us perhaps another foot or two of snow by mid day on Sunday, when it should back off.  Most of the snow will fall south of Interstate 80.  Ridge top winds are zero this morning but will pick up to 10-20 mph from the north and northwest tonight.  Ridge top temperatures will be around 20 degrees today with 8,000’ temperatures in the mid 20’s.  On Sunday, snow should diminish and we have a bit of a break on Monday before a system drops in from the Pacific Northwest with an associated cold front.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will probably not be flying today because of weather but they may be doing avalanche control for the highways and ski resorts.


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. 


Drew Hardesty will update this advisory Sunday morning.

Thanks for calling.