In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management,
Saturday, March 06, 2004, 7:30 am
morning, this is
If you took my advice yesterday and called in sick for work but are planning to make up the time today, it was probably a good call. Overnight, the winds have been blowing from the west with hourly averages of 25-40 with gusts into the 50 and the only good powder left is probably in the mid to lower elevation, very wind sheltered areas. Ridge top temperatures have warmed up into the low 20’s.
Today it may be cloudy, windy and poor turning and riding conditions, but at least the avalanche danger has dramatically increased. Even with yesterday’s moderate avalanche danger, there was still a couple skiers that triggered avalanches on Little Superior and one lost some equipment. These were either new wind slabs or density inversions in the new snow around a foot deep and around 100 feet wide. There was also some snowboarders hucking off a jump on a steep slope above the road at Alta and their jump was buried by a large sluff. Also, control work in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon produced a deep avalanche into old, faceted snow 4-5 feet deep and 100 feet wide in the kind of steep, shallow rocky area that we have been talking about all week. (I will post PHOTOS on the web later this morning).
Today, though, the wind is the big news. Wind not only rapidly deposits snow onto lee slopes, but the snow it does deposit is dense, heavy and easily propagates a fracture. There’s no end of light density snow underneath these wind slabs, which will provide the weak layer, and under that, there’s a variety of slick sun crusts will provide the perfect bed surface. You can expect sensitive, both soft and hard slab avalanches on any slope around 35 degrees or steeper with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Some of the thicker wind drifts may feel a little stubborn until you get well out on them and they will break up above you. Today would be a great day to learn about avalanches. Go to a little test slope, say a 10 foot high road cut, that has recent wind drifts and jump on them to make little avalanches. But whatever you do, don’t learn about them the hard way on big, dangerous slopes. You can recognize wind slabs by their smooth, rounded shape, and they often feel slabby and sound hollow like a drum. Finally, the winds are strong, so you will probably find wind deposits lower on the slopes than usual and in unusual places.
Line for the Wasatch Range, including the
There’s a wide variety of avalanche dangers out there depending on the kind of terrain you choose. The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, which you will find on all but the most wind sheltered slopes. There’s a HIGH danger on any steep slope with deposits of wind drifted snow thicker than about 2 feet. There is a MODERATE danger on any steep slopes without recent wind drifts. If you want LOW danger terrain today, stay on slopes less than 30 degrees without steeper slopes above it, which has not been wind drifted.
cold front is slowly sagging southward, which gave 4 inches of new snow to the
For specific digital forecasts for the
Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather. Today, they most likely will not be able to fly as well.
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.
Drew Hardesty will update this advisory Sunday morning.
Thanks for calling.