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 3/6)

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 3/6)


Early morning preliminary information by 6:00 am: 801-364-1591


Avalanche advisory

Sunday, March 07, 2004,   7:30 am


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, March 07, 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 winds screamed out of the west yesterday averaging in the 40’s and 50’s and are only now starting to become a more reasonable 10-15mph.  Equally important from yesterday was the fact that lower elevation and more sheltered anemometers recorded winds in the 15-20 mph range.   The Salt Lake and Park City mountains managed to pick up 6” of 11% snow during the hurricane.  Under clear skies and a full moon, temperatures are in the mid teens.  Trail breaking is arduous and the turning and riding conditions ‘ain’t what they used to be’.


Avalanche Conditions:

The strong winds wreaked havoc in the backcountry as the delightful powder from Friday became yesterday’s sensitive wind slab.  There were numerous skier triggered avalanches yesterday and one very large natural avalanche on Murdock Peak, adjacent to the Canyons ski area.  At least two skiers were caught and carried in all the activity, with one partial burial.  And these are only the reported incidents.  Most of the avalanches were on 35 degrees and steeper easterly facing aspects at the mid and upper elevations and averaged 1-2’ deep and 40-150’ wide.  The monster on Murdock was 2-6’ deep and 250’ wide, the largest on that slope seen in over 15 years.  Some were triggered as far down in elevation as 7000’ and some were triggered a couple hundred feet down off the ridgelines.  More details on the reported avalanche activity from yesterday are recorded on the 364-1591 line.  While the wind slabs may be more stubborn today, they will be every bit as dangerous.  Strong winds, terrain channeling and crossloading deposited wind slabs in unusual areas and aspects and even further down the slope than usual.   Because hard slabs may let you get way out onto them before pulling out and some of the slabs are lower on the slope than normal, you may get in a few turns before the slope rips out.  The trick will be to look for and avoid smooth rounded pillows, watch for shooting cracks, and listen for whoomphs and collapses in the snowpack.  


The snowpack doesn’t like rapid changes.  By Friday morning, there were high snowfall rates and nearly 2’ of new snow and we saw avalanches.  On Saturday the winds howled and we saw avalanches.  And for today, with clear skies, we will see temperatures jump 15-20 degrees in the mountains.  Stay off of an out from any slope getting too soggy and watch for rollerballs and pinwheels.  The wet activity should be significant today and will be found mostly on steep sunny aspects but could include low elevation northerly facing slopes as well by afternoon.  You might want to postpone your picnic below Superior today and even ice climbers may want to hold off for a few days.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is slated to be even warmer.    


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

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE on all slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  While naturals are unlikely, human triggered avalanches in steep windloaded terrain are probable.  Adding insult to injury, the danger of wet avalanche activity will rise to CONSIDERABLE on the steep sun exposed slopes.  Natural activity will be likely today. 


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:

We’ll see clear skies and light northwesterly winds today.  Temperatures will be in the mid-40’s at 8000’ and 32 degrees along the ridgetops.  Tomorrow will be even warmer. 



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, they will be in the Sessions, American Fork, and Cascade areas.


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 Monday morning.


Thanks for calling.