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 INFORMATION  -  afternoon update

Saturday, April 24, 2004  6:00 pm


Good afternoon, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with an afternoon update.  Today is Saturday, April 24 and it’s 6:00pm.  This information is time sensitive and will expire by Sunday evening and we will update this again on Monday.  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:

When I was out today in Little Cottonwood Canyon and American Fork, there was actually some nice supportable snow this morning on the southerly facing slopes that could be mistaken for corn snow and there was still a few scraps of snow that could pass for soft, settled powder on steep north facing slopes above about 10,000’.  On all the other slopes, the snow surface was breakable crust.  Luckily, the temperature today was quite a bit colder than yesterday and along with stronger winds the snow didn’t get wet until later in the day.  The ridge top temperatures were around freezing today, while they were around 40 yesterday and the 8,000 foot temperature was around 40 today and it was near 50 yesterday.


Avalanche Conditions:

Because of the cooler temperatures, scattered clouds and wind, the wet activity kept to a minimum today.  I was able to make some nice rollerballs on some of the steep, north facing slopes around 9,500’ in the heat of the afternoon and I did notice a couple fresh wet sluffs on the steep, south facing slopes, but otherwise things seemed pretty quiet.  (Click HERE for photos.)   As this new, cold snow warms up for the first time, it tends to misbehave because the percolating melt water just gets soaked up in the fine grained snow like a sponge.  Within a couple days of strong melting, it becomes more porous and develops drainage channels and thus becomes much more stable.  So watch out for the new snow when it gets wet these next couple days.  I’m also guessing that this warm up will occur slowly enough that we won’t see any big activity, but rather smaller wet sluffs on most all aspects as temperatures continue to warm over the next several days.  So it’s back to the old spring time game of setting your alarm clock early.  Start on the east facing slopes in early morning, south in mid morning and west in the late morning and get off of the snow when it starts to becomes unsupportable.  You should head home around noon.  Also, remember that the snow surface is hard and icy in the morning, so you can easily slide on the slick surface so watch your step.


We feel uncomfortable issuing any avalanche danger ratings for several reasons: first there’s so little information coming in this time of year, second, several of our staff are off for the season and finally, we’re only issuing afternoon updates, so the information is 16 hours old by the time you get out on the snow.  So we’ll just tell you what we know and leave the bottom line to you.


Lastly, remember that except for Snowbird, all of the ski areas are closed – therefore, you’ll need to treat your favorite resort runs as the backcountry. 


Mountain Weather: 

As a nice high pressure ridge builds into Utah for the first half of the week, the weather forecast calls for great corn snow producing weather, namely warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights.  Tonight, we should have another good refreeze with temperatures below freezing and clear skies.  On Sunday, the 8,000 foot temperature should warm to 50 and be around 40 along the ridge tops, where the wind should be much diminished from today and blow around 10 mph.  I’m guessing that you will still find supportable, immature corn snow on Sunday morning but it will probably turn unsupportable by about 10:00 am on the east facing slopes, by 11:00 on the south facing slopes and by noon on the west facing slopes…or something like that.  We should have clear, warm weather for the first half of the week.  Then, the extended forecast calls for some high clouds on about Tuesday with another bit of weather for about Wednesday and Thursday.


We’ll update this advisory again either on Sunday afternoon or on Monday.

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.