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)



Sunday, October 24, 2004  9:00 pm


Good evening, this is Drew Hardesty 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 Sunday, October 24, 2004, and it’s 9 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:

Wow. Those heading up into the mountains today found another foot of medium density snow, pushing snow depths at 8500’ to over 2’ and 4-5’ over 10,000’.  Winds were generally light with mountain temps in the mid to upper twenties.  By early afternoon, the sun tried to poke through and temperatures rose a few degrees, producing a slight “greenhouse effect” which may have slightly damaged the snow surfaces.  Otherwise, in most areas, the riding and turning conditions are excellent with the new snow sitting on a ‘right-side-up’ base of dense, moist snow. 


Saturday’s moderate westerly and northwesterly winds not only damaged many exposed slopes, but loaded many lee slopes and cross-loaded others even at the mid-elevations.  While many of these wind drifts had settled out overnight, some today were still sensitive.   The most significant slide reported today was in upper Little Cottonwood.  Details are still sketchy at this point, but it’s likely that a skier triggered an avalanche in the Baldy chutes at Alta that possibly triggered another, larger slide, estimated at 2’ deep by 200’ wide.  It reportedly ran quite a ways, entraining a large amount of snow and producing a sizable debris pile.  It is unsettling to know that there are some that, at this time of year, assume that the snowpack within the ski area boundaries is benign.   It is even more disturbing that the same folks are committing to slopes with complete disregard of who may be below them.  And it’s safe to say that recreationists are literally swarming around the now-closed ski areas.  So here are a few simple reminders: commit only one person to the slope at a time.  Get out of the way at the bottom.  Never ski or ride above your partner or anyone else.  Make a plan. 


Another 24 hours of moderate temperatures should settle out most, but perhaps not all of the wind drifts from Saturday.  These lingering instabilities will be in very isolated terrain and natural activity is not expected.  As the winds are expected to pick up out of the southwest by Monday, fresh wind drifts will again be deposited on the lee of ridgelines and rollovers.  Be on the lookout for a rising danger if we get more snow than expected and the winds start to move the snow around.  Slope cuts across a starting zone should give an extra dose of insurance to those looking for the goods in steeper terrain.   


Mountain Weather:

A series of weak weather disturbances will cross northern Utah through early this week, with a stronger cold front forecast to enter the region midweek.  A warm front should shower that range with a couple new inches tonight and tomorrow.  Monday’s 8000’ temps will be in the mid-thirties and in the upper twenties at 10,000’.  Winds will be increasing out of the southwest tomorrow in the 10-20mph range along the higher ridgelines.   Another Pacific storm, similar to last week’s storm, is slated to arrive mid-week that should produce significant snow.


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.