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

Thursday, April 22, 2004  6:00 pm


Good afternoon, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with an afternoon update.  Today is Thursday, April 22 and it’s 6pm.  This information is time sensitive and will expire by Friday 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:

There’s nothing like strong winds to wreak havoc on the traveling conditions and add spice to the avalanches.  The Wasatch managed to squeeze another inch or two out of the storm, but today the big ticket item was the strong north through easterly winds that averaged 20-30 mph, gusting to 45 along the ridgelines.  The snow surface conditions are now a medley of wind pillows, scoured areas of mostly supportable crust, and my all-time favorite, the trapdoor breakable crust.    


Avalanche Conditions:

In the words of the intrepid Bob Athey, it was easy to tease the cat today as the new wind drifts were sensitive to slope cuts and cornice drops.  The strong north through east winds predominantly loaded south through west facing slopes, but plenty of cross-loading occurred as well.  Activity reported from the resorts and the backcountry were consistent in describing the slides as “active, but pockety”, with most in the 12-18” range and generally less than 100’ wide.  Winds like these commonly load uncommon areas as well as further down the slope than what one might expect.  Fortunately, the drifting from the past couple days had mostly settled out and activity was within the newly drifted snow and not stepping down.  While many of today’s drifts will have settled out for Friday, the continued strong winds should keep a few pockets active in the mid and upper elevations.  Watch for and avoid rounded pillows of snow, tune in to cracking and hollow-sounding snow-whales, and exercise caution on slope cuts and cornice drops.  If the warmer ambient temps are accompanied by direct solar heating, the danger will rise accordingly.  Watch if the snow starts to become saturated and you’ll see a spike in natural wet activity combined with an increase in sensitivity when moving through the steeper slopes.  


Remember, all the ski areas expect for Snowbird are closed and no one is doing avalanche control work  -  so you’ll need to treat your favorite resort runs, like Easier Way, as the backcountry. 


BOTTOM LINE FOR THE SALT LAKE, PARK CITY, OGDEN, AND PROVO MOUNTAINS:  The avalanche danger will be mODERATE on steep wind drifted slopes.  Human triggered avalanches will be possible.  Be alert to changing weather conditions tomorrow – if it’s sunnier than expected, the danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE on all sun-exposed slopes as well as any slopes that start to get damp.   


Mountain Weather: 

The center of the Low is currently over the four corners area and should continue to pump limited moisture into the Wasatch tonight with sustained strong easterly winds.  The winds tonight through tomorrow midday will be 30-35 mph, but should slowly taper off somewhat by the afternoon.  8000’ lows will be near 20 degrees tonight, rising to the mid-40’s tomorrow.  Ridgetop temps will be in the low 20’s tonight and tomorrow.  High pressure will start to build by late Friday accompanied by a warming trend that should push 10,000’ temps to the mid-40’s by Monday afternoon.  The longer range models suggest another storm this time next week.

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.