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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Avalanche ADVISORY

Wednesday, December 08, 2004 7:30 Am         


Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, December 08, 2004, and it’s 7:30 am.  This forecast is brought to you in partnership with the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, supported in part by the Wasatch Women’s Telemark series.


Current Conditions: 

Yesterday morning, the winds howled from the southwest with hourly averages of 40, gusting to 50 or 60.  The winds backed off in the afternoon and with more snow overnight.  The 24-hour snow totals are around a foot in most of the Wasatch Range with ˝ inch to one inch of water weight, but selected areas got hammered with over two inches of water weight, such as Sundance Resort and Ben Lomond Peak.  Ridge top temperatures are around 17 degrees with 8,000’ temperatures in the mid 20’s.  Ridge top winds are blowing at a reasonable 20 mph from the southwest.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday morning’s very strong winds sand blasted most of the above-tree line terrain and made some localized, sensitive wind slabs.  For instance, yesterday morning, skiers remotely-triggered a wind slab on Tri County Peak near the Park City Resort 2-4 feet deep and 100 feet wide.  The new snow and wind drifted snow landed on top of weak layers of faceted snow and surface hoar, which formed during the clear weather this past couple weeks.  Yesterday morning’s wind slabs are now hidden by last night’s snow, making them nearly impossible to see.  They will look smooth and rounded, feel hard and sometimes sound hollow like a drum.  Also, be especially suspicious of steep, breakovers in down off the ridges in traditionally more wind sheltered areas especially in areas that got a lot of new snow overnight.


Finally, I’m expecting more snow this afternoon and tonight along with very strong winds from the southwest to west.  This should push the avalanche danger one notch higher on scale.  We will likely issue and avalanche warning for the Wasatch Range for tonight and Thursday.


Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City and Provo mountains): 

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  Considerable means human triggered slides are probable and natural slides are possible.  Avalanche danger will likely rise to HIGH tonight and on Thursday.  If you want LOW danger terrain, stay on slopes less than 30 degrees and out from underneath steeper slopes.  


Ogden area mountains:

In places which received more than a foot of new snow—such as Ben Lomond Peak, the avalanche danger is HIGH. 


Mountain Weather:

With a slight break this morning, I’m expecting another foot of snow this afternoon and overnight.  But the big news is that the winds will blow hard from the southwest switching to the northwest by morning.  We’re expecting winds of around 60 mph with higher gusts.  Adding insult to injury, temperatures will be warmer, so this will likely push the avalanche danger to HIGH.   Today, ridge top temperatures will be near 20 degrees and 8,000’ temperatures will be in the mid to upper 20’s.   For the extended forecast, we should be back to partly cloudy skies for Friday and a ridge building over us for the weekend.


Remember that UDOT may conduct avalanche control operations above the highway in Little Cottonwood Canyon at any time and will likely do so on Thursday morning.  For more information, call 801-742-2927 or 801-742-2033.


I will be teaching an avalanche awareness class on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm for the Wasatch Mountain Club at the Mt. Olympus Presbyterian Church at 3900 S. and 2300 E.


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. 

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 Thursday morning, and thanks for calling.