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:




Thursday, October 28, 20046:00 pm


Good afternoon, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information.Today is Thursday, October 28, 2004, and itís 6:00 pm.Weíll be issuing afternoon bulletins through the end of the month on an almost daily basis.Donít 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:

Well, I must say, Iím very impressed.This is the best October snow cover in the 19 years Iíve been in Utah.But it is very elevation dependent.Thereís 4-5 feet of well-consolidated snow above 10,000í and about 2 feet of dense snow at 8,500í with no snow below 7,000í.†† Overnight, around 8 inches of snow fell in the Salt Lake area mountain at around 9,500í and it was around 10 percent water content.This morning, I found it very delightful above 10,000í but was the consistency of mashed potatoes below 9,000í.Before the snow started late yesterday afternoon, the winds blew 20, gusting to near 40 but the winds dropped overnight as the new snow fell, making an even blanket over most of the terrain.Winds started to pick up a little by mid day today and itís starting to blow the light snow around along the ridgetops.


Avalanche Conditions

Today, the main problem was soft wind slabs, mostly along the ridges breaking 4-8 inches deep and 20-40 feet wide.Avalanche control in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon produced more widespread avalanches around 11,000í breaking about a foot deep. These wind slabs are very sensitive, especially when they sit on an old sun or wind crust from yesterday.Although most of them are quite soft, they are harder, deeper and more dangerous along the highest ridges and in some other wind exposed areas.Clues to instability will include cracking of the new snow.As always, you should avoid any steep slope with recent wind deposits.Check them out before you commit yourself.


A second avalanche problem today was damp and wet snow below about 9,500í. There was some rollerballs and surface sluffing at lower elevations.Damp to wet surface sluffs could trap you in a terrain trap such as a gully.


Remember, for the most part, the unopened ski areas are not doing control work, and are just as dangerous as the backcountry.Alta Ski Area will be open to uphill traffic on Friday and possibly Saturday but may close for uphill traffic again depending on Saturdayís forecasted storm.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, which are most widespread along the higher ridgelines.The avalanche danger is also MODERATE on steep slopes below about 9,000í which are getting damp to wet.Elsewhere, the danger is generally LOW.The rest of this storm looks like it wonít put down significantly more snow overnight but if we do get more than about a foot of new snow or if the winds pick up, the avalanche danger will rise.Places like the south slope of the Uinta Mountains and the Wasatch Plateau seem to have gotten more snow out of this latest storm and the avalanche danger is probably higher there.


Mountain Weather:

We might see another 4-6 inches of snow overnight with ridgetop winds staying moderate from the west and turning northwest by morning.Overnight temperatures will drop to the mid 20ís and the daytime high on Friday should be around the mid 30ís at 8,000í.†† We have a bit of a break in the weather on Friday with partly cloudy skies and some light snow showers.Then , a colder storm comes in from the northwest on Saturday night, which should give us perhaps another foot of 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.