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)



Friday, October 22, 2004  4:00 pm


Good evening, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information.  We’ll be issuing intermittent afternoon bulletins through the end of the month as conditions warrant.  Today is Friday, October 22, 2004, and it’s 6:30 pm.  Don’t miss the annual Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center ski swap at REI on Saturday, November 6th.  Gear drop off will be on Thursday and Friday evenings.


Current Conditions:

Early winter has spread across northern Utah, with the snow depth heavily dependent on elevation in all areas of the Salt Lake, Park City, Provo and Ogden mountains.  Generally, there seems to be about 12 to 18” of snow on the ground at 8,500’, increasing to 30 to 50” above about 10,000’.  So if you’re heading out for some turns this weekend, start high and stay high.  Trail breaking is a bit stiff, and turns will best out of wind affected areas.  The winds picked up this afternoon and started moving snow along the ridges and in open bowls.  They were from the northwest, averaging 15 mph, with gusts 25 to 35 mph. 


The snow pack has two basic layers.  There is a solid base of dense, moist snow, with a layer of colder, lighter density snow on top.  The top layer is a bit punchy due to a density inversion, and is capped with a layer of dense, wind blown snow in exposed areas.  We’re not issuing danger ratings yet, but if there is enough snow to ski or ride, there is enough snow to slide.  The main avalanche concern for the weekend are the fresh wind drifts or “wind slabs”.   Watch out for and avoid the cracky wind drifts on steep slopes, which will be most widespread near upper elevation ridges and in open bowls.  On Saturday, also watch out for heating of the surface snow, especially at the mid elevations.  Roller balls or being able to start damp loose snow slides by “pushing” are clues the snow surface is heating up, and you need to stay off of and out from under those steep slopes.


Remember, the unopened ski areas are not doing control work, and must be treated as backcountry.  So wherever you’re traveling this weekend, practice your safe travel techniques – have a beacon, shovel and probe, travel on steep slopes one at a time, and get out of the way at the bottom.   Be aware of where you are in relation to other parties, and if it’s getting too crowded, go some where else.


Mountain Weather:

A series of weak weather disturbances will cross northern Utah through early next week, with a stronger cold front forecast to enter the region midweek.  Saturday will be mostly cloudy, with highs near 40 at 8,000’ and near 35 at 10,000’.  The southwesterly winds will increase during the day, with ridgetop speeds reaching the 20 to 30 mph range by afternoon.  A fast moving cold front will move across the area Saturday night, with 4 to 6” of snow possible.  Sunday through Tuesday will be mostly cloudy with snow showers.


If you are getting out, drop us a line or an email with any reports or observations from the backcountry.  You can leave us a message at 524-5304 or 1 800-662-4140.  Email us 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.