In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management,
Monday, March 01, 2004, 7:30 am
morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the
Utah DOT will be doing control work to protect Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons this morning in the Stairs Gulch, Tanner’s, Coalpit, Argenta, and Kessler Peak avalanche paths.
Today will be the first nice day since the storm began last Thursday, that has left us a little shell-shocked under 3-5’ of new snow. As a parting gift as it left town, this banner storm provided, in the last 24 hours, another foot of 5% to upper Little Cottonwood. Areas outside of Little picked up 5” or less. Under partly cloudy skies, mountain temperatures have plummeted to the single digits and winds are less than 15 mph out of the west northwest. Turning and riding conditions will be pretty darn good. Again.
There were only two reported avalanches yesterday, but many backcountry parties experienced collapsing in the snowpack on east through south through west facing aspects. The more significant avalanche was a skier triggered slide on Reynold’s peak, on a westerly facing slope at 7900’. After two turns, it broke out above him 2’ deep and 40’ wide, running 150’ down the slope. Fortunately, the debris carried past him and he wasn’t carried very far. Upon investigation, the weak layer was a faceted layer of weak snow sandwiched between two crusts, failing on a 34 degree slope, which may help to explain the whoomphing and collapsing found elsewhere across the range. This layer will still be active today and you will want to be cautious on even low angle slopes adjacent or beneath this type of terrain. The other slide was a shallow natural on a south facing 40 degree slope near the Alta library.
While the snowpack has had another day to adjust to the new load, I struggle with dropping the danger on the first bluebird day after a storm that has brought so much snow. Further, empirical evidence points toward the slab/weak layer combo becoming more sensitive with the first sun and warm up, as if it were another ‘shock to the system’. My recommendation would be to give it another day to adjust and gain strength. There have been at least 8 unintentional human triggered avalanches since the start of the storm with one fatality. It would be best to keep your slope angles down and follow strict backcountry travel protocol. Any avalanche triggered will likely be large and very dangerous.
Lastly, with the new sun and warm up, watch for wet activity on the mid and low elevation sun-exposed slopes as the day progresses.
Line for the Wasatch Range, including the
The avalanche danger is MODERATE with pockets of CONSIDERABLE on steep mid and upper elevation slopes. 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.
BOTTOM LINE FOR THE UINTA MOUNTAINS: MODERATE with pockets of CONSIDERABLE. Any avalanche triggered will be large and dangerous and may even pull out to the ground.
have partly cloudy skies today with light backing winds to the southwest. Temperatures at 8000 and 10,000’ will be near
30 and in the upper teens. We’ll likely
see increasing clouds tomorrow as a storm system on a southerly track mostly
For specific digital forecasts for the
The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in American Fork, Cascade, and upper Lamb’s Canyon.
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.
Thanks for calling.