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 3/16)

Photos sent in by observers throughout the season visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/obphotos/observer.html      (Updated 3/12)

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/Avalanche_List.htm     (Updated 3/9)


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


Avalanche advisory

Sunday, March 21, 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 21, 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.


The Special Avalanche Advisory for the mountains of northern Utah will continue today through Monday.  The warm weather expected through early this week has increased the danger of wet avalanches, and backcountry travelers should stay off of and out from under steep slopes.


Current Conditions:

For the central core of the Wasatch, last night was the third consecutive night without a refreeze.  Overnight lows were above 40 degrees above 8000’ with the exception of where cooler air has pooled in the mountain drainages and alpine basins.  Winds remain light and westerly.  If you’re heading into the hills this morning, don’t be fooled by the supportable crust at the trailhead only to find punchy, if non-supportable conditions as you gain elevation.  


Avalanche Conditions:

We have three concerns for today.  The main concern is the transition from wet sluffs to wet slab avalanches, which have a potential to be very large and long running.  Keep in mind that without a diurnal melt-freeze cycle, water starts to percolate through the snowpack and may sooner or later find a weak layer or impermeable crust on which to pool and produce wet slab avalanches.  So with a series of nonfreezing nights and hot days, I expect the snowpack to literally become unglued today and tomorrow.  Second, we’re worried about any thin snow pack areas, to include the eastern flank of the Park City ridgeline and the Uintas – particularly mid to low elevation northerly slopes that have been shallow and inherently weak, and now further weakened by the excessively warm temps.  In Little Cottonwood, the northerly aspects got into the game yesterday as natural wet avalanches ripped out of Coalpit 4 and the Y couloir – and so all aspects should be awarded caution in the backcountry.   Glide avalanches are the last problem – two glide avalanches have already pulled out in upper Broad’s Fork and we can expect more on the way in any area where snow sits on steep rocky slabs.  When the snowpack starts melting 24 hours/day, avalanches can occur at all hours.  Early starts will not cure the wet slab and glide avalanche problems.  Avoid building kickers or picnicking in gullies or below steep slopes, such as at Lisa Falls.


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake AND Park CITY AREA MOUNTAINS:

The avalanche danger will initially rise to MODERATE and then CONSIDERABLE with daytime heating.  Backcountry travelers should stay off of and out from under steep slopes.  Large natural wet avalanches will be possible. 


Bottom Line for the OGDEN and PROVO AREA MOUNTAINS:

The avalanche danger is moderate this morning, and will rise to considerable with day time heating.  The danger may be more pronounced here as they’ve had a longer spell of non freezing nights.


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 ridge of high pressure will strengthen over northern Utah today with highs at 8000’ in the upper 50’s with 10,000’ temps in the lower 50’s.  Winds will remain light and westerly.  The ridge starts to flatten somewhat tomorrow and we’ll see increasing high level clouds tonight.  We’ll finally get a little relief by Tuesday as temps are slated to drop by ten degrees.  Don’t stow the winter gear yet – our next storm is slated for the weekend.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in didn’t fly yesterday and are unlikely to fly today.


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.