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

Monday, March 22, 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 Monday, March 22, 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 Snowbird Mountain Resort.


The Special Avalanche Advisory for the mountains of northern Utah will continue through at least today.  The record breaking warm temperatures has increased the danger of wet avalanches, and backcountry travelers should stay off of and out from under steep slopes.


Current Conditions:

This reminds me of that old Far Side cartoon with two guys down in hell and they’re both sweating and one guy says to the other guy, ‘Hot enough for ya?’.  This morning’s temps are just about on par with yesterday’s, with overnight lows in the mid to upper 40’s at 8 and 10,000’.  Once again, colder air has pooled in the mountain drainages and alpine basins, so don’t get your hopes up with the supportable snow at the trailhead.  Winds did pick up slightly around midnight and are 10-15mph out of the southwest.   The high clouds that enveloped the range yesterday have dissipated, but are likely to return later this evening.  


Avalanche Conditions:

The main concern is the transition from wet sluffs to wet slab avalanches, which have a potential to be very large and long running.  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.  We’re also 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.  If you’re out today, take a minute to stick your inverted ski pole into the snow.  If you can easily stab the ground through just a few feet of wet glop, tiptoe back to the ridge.   


All in all, it appears that only the high elevation northerly slopes remain innocent in the wet avalanche game.  The mid to low elevation slopes are active, as evidenced by decent debris piles out of Coalpit 4 and the Y couloir from Saturday.   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, Park CITY, Provo, ogden, and Uinta 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. 


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 flatten somewhat as a weak system moves by to the north.  Nonetheless, skies will be mostly sunny with breezier southwesterly winds.  8000’ highs will be near 60 with ridgetop temperatures in the mid-40s.  Tonight should bring increasing clouds ahead of a weak cold front slated to move through Tuesday afternoon that should drop temps about 10 degrees and bring some light showers to northern Utah.  Wednesday signals the start of a stronger southwest flow with a rebound in temperatures ahead of a potential storm for the weekend.


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


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides 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. 


Andrew McLean will update this advisory Tuesday morning.


Thanks for calling.