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:



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Friday, November 26, 2004 7:30 Am         


Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information.  Today is Friday, November 26th, 2004, and it’s 7:30 am. 


There are two upcoming benefits for our partners The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center.  On Tuesday, November 30th, Howie Garber will be giving an adventure sports and nature photography slide show at 7pm at the Ft. Douglas Post Theater on the U of U Campus.  There is a $10 donation requested.  Then on Thursday December 2nd, Brewvies will have their 4th annual Ski Bum Movie Night with two showings of TGR’s latest film “Soul Purpose” plus the film “Sinners”, first at 7pm and then at 9pm. 


Current Conditions: 

After a dull, spring-like two weeks, we finally are back in snowy times.  Alta reports 8 inches of fairly light 10% snow with a couple more inches expected this morning.  They report 0.7 inches of water weight.   With the west to northwest flow, Big Cottonwood has around 6-8 inches at higher elevations at mid canyon but only 5 inches at Brighton and there’s 2-4 inches on the Park City side of the range. Snowbasin automated stations show 10 inches and the SNOTEL site at Farmington Canyon shows an amazing 1.5 inches of water with 8 inches of snow.  The ridge top winds were fairly well behaved overnight but they have picked up and are blowing 20, gusting to 30 along the highest ridges from the west to northwest.  This is also making the snow a bit upside-down, laying denser snow on top of lighter snow.


Avalanche Conditions:

Today I’m thinking that the main problems will be fresh wind drifts along the ridges and other wind exposed slopes above tree line.  As always, you should avoid any steep slope with recent wind deposits.  Also, there will be a slight density inversion within the new snow, so you may find some soft, shallow slabs even in non-wind drifted areas.  Finally, the past two weeks of clear weather created thick layers of weak, faceted snow and surface hoar on the old snow surface, mostly on wind and sun sheltered slopes above 9,000’.  I’m thinking that this new snow probably doesn’t weigh enough to create widespread avalanche problems on the old, faceted snow, but Saturday’s storm will probably be enough weight to create more widespread problems and people will start triggering avalanches down lower on the slope than they expect.  The avalanches conditions will be quite variable today and through the weekend, so be sure to be diligent about safe travel ritual.  Cross avalanche terrain one at a time, avoid fresh wind drifts and put good slope cuts on every steep slope, even down out of the wind.


Bottom Line:

There is a CONSIDERABLE danger on any steep slope with recent wind drifts.  This means human triggered avalanches are likely.  There is a MODERATE danger on slopes steeper than about 35 without wind drifting.


Mountain Weather:

Probably a couple more inches of snow this morning in Little Cottonwood and another inch or two in Big Cottonwood, but otherwise, most of the snow is mostly over.  We should see clearing skies by afternoon.  Ridge top winds should diminish through the day and continue from the west to northwest.  Ridge top temperatures will be near 20 degrees today with 8,000’ temperatures in the mid to upper 20’s.  Saturday morning, the next storm from the Gulf of Alaska should arrive with perhaps a foot of snow in favored areas.  Ridge top winds should blow from the southwest on Saturday morning and turn northwest by mid day.  Snow should end by Sunday morning with ridge top temperatures dropping down to around 5 degrees and ridge top winds turning north, then easterly.  Then, we should have a few rest days with perhaps another shot of snow a week from today.


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 send 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. 

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 Saturday morning, and thanks for calling.