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:




Monday, October 25, 2004  5:30 pm


Good evening, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information.  Today is Monday, October 25, 2004, and it’s 5:30 pm.  We’ll be issuing afternoon bulletins through the end of the month on an almost daily basis.  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:

A weak, upper level trough over northern Utah kept the snow falling throughout the day.  24 hour new snow totals are around 6 to 12”, with densities averaging around 10%.   Temperatures warmed throughout the day, into the low to mid 30’s at 9,500’.   Average snow depths in the northern Wasatch are now close to 2’ at 8000’, rapidly increasing to over 3’ at 9000’, and over 4’ above 10,000’.  Winds have been from the southwest, in the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts into the 30’s.  A day of trail breaking will have more results than a week of your Atkins diet.


Avalanche Conditions

“Instant Winter” has also turned into instant avalanche season, with numerous natural and easily skier triggered slides reported today.  Several natural avalanches occurred in mid and upper Little Cottonwood, with debris piles 2 to 5’ deep.  Debris from three natural slides was observed off Elk Point in the Provo area mountains, with one slide reaching to within 500’ of the summer trail.  Most of these avalanches were caused by a sensitive surface slab that was created by today’s winds and warm snow.  People were also easily triggered these soft slabs, about a foot deep, in steep, wind affected terrain, mostly along higher ridges.  One skier triggered slide broke out larger, 2 ˝’ deep and about 400’ wide.     


While we should get a break from the precipitation tonight and most of tomorrow, wind speeds are forecast to increase into the 30 to 40 mile range ahead of the next storm.  With abundant snow to blow around, I expect the winds to rapidly drift large amounts of snow and create very sensitive wind drifts or wind slabs.  These fresh drifts of wind blown snow will be easily triggered by people, and another round of natural avalanche activity is possible. 


Remember, the unopened ski areas are not doing control work, and are just as dangerous as the backcountry.  Also, some ski areas may start posting closures so they can prepare to open, so please obey all signs.  Alta will close their area to uphill traffic starting Tuesday evening for control work and construction, with the closure lasting through the next storm. 


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE, with natural avalanches possible, and human triggered avalanches probable.  If the winds increase Tuesday as forecast, the avalanche danger will rise HIGH Tuesday, with both natural and human triggered avalanches likely.  The most activity will be on steep, wind loaded slopes.  With natural activity possible, backcountry travelers, including hunters, need to be aware of what is above them and avoid travel in runout zones. 


Mountain Weather:

Stormy weather will continue through out the week, with temperatures cooling Thursday and Friday.  Tonight, there will be a few lingering snow showers, with lows near 25 at 8,000’.  Winds will be from the southwest and increase to near 30 mph by morning.  Tuesday will be mostly cloudy, with snow developing late in the day.  Winds will be strong out of the south, and highs will near 40 at 8,000’.  Heavy precipitation should begin by Tuesday night and continue through Wednesday on a strong, moist southwesterly flow.  A cold front will cross the area early Thursday, shifting to a cool, moist west to northwest flow through Friday.  A colder storm is expected to move into the area Saturday night into Monday.


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.