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:


For photos of avalanches and avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/photos_03-04.htm      (Updated 3/25)

Photos sent in by observers throughout the season visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/obphotos/observer.html      (Updated 4/2)

For a list of backcountry avalanche activity, visit:  http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/Avalanche_List.htm     (Updated 3/31)


Avalanche Advisory afternoon update

Wednesday, April 21, 2004  5:30pm


Good afternoon, this is Craig Gordon with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with an afternoon update.  Today is Wednesday, April 21 and it’s 5:30pm.  This information is time sensitive and will expire by Thursday evening.  Click here to see our standard end of the year bulletin which has links to weather sites and information as well as some general tips and guidelines for the spring avalanche season. 


Current Conditions:

Storm totals are starting to stack up. Since Sunday, the Cottonwoods have received close to 30” of new snow with over 2 “of water, including 8-12” last night. The Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains have received about half that amount.  Tuesday the winds blew from the southwest along the higher ridges and created 2’-3’ drifts (Bob Athey photo) throughout the range.  Snow surface conditions are deep, creamy powder at the upper elevations, though today much of the mid and lower elevation slopes received a good dose of heat from green housing, making for some challenging exits.


Avalanche Conditions:

Its winter again in the mountains and the new snow has been quite active, with numerous reports of both human triggered and natural avalanche activity in the Cottonwoods. Yesterday, two backcountry enthusiasts sympathetically triggered a large soft slab avalanche on the Baldy shoulder while starting to descend the main chute. The slide was 3-4’ deep and about 100’ wide. The two came out unscathed, though it was a close call for them and the numerous other people in the area.  (Baldy crown and slide  Daniel Howlett photos).  Remember, all the ski areas expect for Snowbird are closed and no one is doing avalanche control work, and all closed ski areas should be treated as backcountry terrain, even if they have old moguls.


Today, there were numerous natural and human triggered slides on all aspects, involving snow from last night, with a few breaking deeper into Tuesday’s snow.  The snow was very sensitive to ski cuts, and the slides averaged 9 to 18” deep, and 100 to 300’ wide.  As the day heated up, the snow got damp; there were natural and human triggered wet sluffs and slabs on a variety of aspects and elevations.  These entrained enough snow to carry you off a cliff, into trees or even bury you in a terrain trap.


An additional 8 to 16” of snow is expected by tomorrow afternoon, coupled with increasing winds, and I expect the avalanche danger to rise.  If you are heading out in the backcountry tomorrow, there is the potential for another round of sensitive slab avalanches breaking out 1 to 2 feet deep and over 100’ wide.  It will be possible for some of these slides to step down and take out all the snow that’s fallen this week.  Even if you’re staying on low angle terrain tomorrow, be aware of both people and steep slopes above you.


BOTTOM LINE FOR THE SALT LAKE, PARK CITY, OGDEN, AND PROVO MOUNTAINS:  On slopes steeper than 35 degrees, the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE, with human triggered slides probable and natural avalanches possible.  Be alert to changing weather conditions tomorrow - when the winds pick up, precipitation rates increase, or if the sun peaks through the avalanche danger may rise to HIGH.  On wind sheltered slopes less steep than about 35 degrees, the danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather: 

A wet pacific storm will move through tonight and slowly clear the area late Thursday afternoon or Thursday night. Winds will be light through Thursday morning then pick up from the north to northeast Thursday afternoon and Thursday night. For tonight expect snow showers to develop with 4-8” expected. Lows will be near 20 degrees at both 8 and 10,000’. On Thursday another 4-8” are possible. High temperatures will be in the mid to upper 20’s. Winds will be increasing on Thursday into the 25-30 mph range from the northeast. High pressure builds in Friday through the weekend, which will dramatically warm temperatures, so expect another round of wet avalanche activity.  

Backcountry snow and avalanche information is still useful to us.  So if you’re still getting out and see anything of interest, leave us a message at 524-5304, 1 800-662-4140, drop us an email at [email protected], or a fax to 524-6301.  The information in this advisory is from the US Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content.  This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.