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 3/4)

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 3/4)


Avalanche advisory

Friday, March 05, 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 Friday, March 05, 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 the Uinta Brewing Company.


Current Conditions:

Today is shaping up to be a good call in sick to work day with a foot of very light density snow overnight in Little Cottonwood Canyon with 20 inches in the past 24 hours.  There’s about half that amount outside of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  The winds have been reasonable as well, only blowing 10-15 mph from the northwest and the ridge top temperatures are around 10 degrees.  The lake effect snow should end by about mid morning and we will probably see some sun through the clouds, similar to yesterday.  It might be good to get it while you can today because the winds are supposed to pick up tomorrow and will probably ruin all our nice snow.  


Avalanche Conditions:

The avalanche conditions are kind of like the old poem: “There once was a little snowpack with a little faceted snow, right in the middle of its layers.  When she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad, she was horrid.”  Or at least I think it goes something like that.   The thin snowpack areas continue to be scary enough to avoid while the deep snowpack areas are quite stable.  The central core of the Wasatch Range has a deep, mostly stable snowpack while shallow snow exists on the fringes, especially the mid elevation eastern fringe and some of the shallow, steep, rocky areas in the central core.  One trick I have been using a lot recently, is to push my ski pole into the snow, handle end first, and see if I can feel some of those rotten layers below.  Also, use your probe to check for snowpack depth.  Although, for the first time in a week, yesterday we didn’t hear about any avalanches on this layer, anything less than about 4-5 feet should make you suspicious.


The second problem is that all this new snow is sitting on top of some very slick sun crusts on many of the slopes.  It not only sluffs easily in very light density, loose snow avalanches, but yesterday’s wind of about 20 mph formed some very sensitive, soft wind slabs mostly along the upper elevation ridges.   These wind slabs are quite localized today but they will be dramatically more widespread and dangerous tomorrow with the expected strong winds beginning tonight.


The third problem is the usual damp to wet sluffs that occur this time of year every time the warm spring time sun shines on the steep, south facing slopes.  So if the sun does come out today, definitely stay off of and out from underneath steep, sun exposed slopes when they are getting damp.


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

The avalanche danger is LOW to MODERATE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees for the thick snowpack areas in the central core of the Wasatch Range and it’s on the high end of MODERATE for any thinner snowpack areas.  There is also a MODERATE danger on any steep slope with recent wind drifts as well as for wet sluffs on steep south facing slopes if the sun comes out.  I expect the avalanche danger to rise dramatically by Saturday because of strong winds.


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:

The snow should end this morning, but there will still be some low level moisture and clouds hanging around the mountains but thin enough to allow the sun to poke through.  Ridge top temperatures will remain cold, around 12 degrees with 8,000’ highs in the mid 20’s.  Enjoy this nice snow while you can, because tonight, the winds are forecast to crank up from the west-northwest at around 40 mph and Saturday should be a windy, cloudy day with light snow showers.  Temperatures on Saturday should be slightly warmer than today.  Then, by Monday through most of the week, the big warm up occurs as a high pressure ridge builds into the area bringing ridge top temperatures up to freezing and 8,000’ temps in the 40’s.  


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


General Information:

Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather.  Today, weather permitting, they will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, American Fork, Lambs, Sessions and Cascade.


Finally, the annual Wasatch Powderkeg randonnee rally race will be March 20th.  You can sign up at the Black Diamond retail store.


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. 


I will update this advisory Saturday morning.


Thanks for calling.