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

Sunday, December 12, 2004 7:30 Am†††††††††


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Sunday, December 12, 2004, and itís 7:30 am.




Current Conditions:

Despite mostly clear skies, mountain temperatures stayed above freezing at all locations below 11,000í.Winds were from a westerly direction in the mid-twenties to mid-thirties yesterday, and are now averaging 15-25mph along the highest ridgelines.Snow surface conditions range from mostly supportable to breakable on the steep sunny slopes with dense settled powder on protected shady slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

It continues to be very dangerous in the backcountry with more tragic events and near misses occurring in the mountains.There is a confirmed snowmobiler fatality yesterday in the Western Uintas above Strawberry Reservoir, two missing snowshoers in upper Mineral Fork canyon in mid-Big Cottonwood Canyon, and multiple near misses in the Logan, Ogden, and Salt Lake mountains.Craig Gordon and Bruce Tremper will try to complete investigations on these incidents today, and my photos/investigation on the Twin Lakes fatality from Friday are posted on our website.Near misses include three snowmachiners caught and carried in an avalanche near Mt. Naomi up near Logan, a burial and live recovery near Bountiful Peak, and a remotely triggered slide (another photo) in Alexander Basin that took out the previous runís tracks.There was also a report of at least one avalanche along the Park City ridgeline that ripped out to the ground and a reported natural off Tuscarora in upper BCC that was 2-3í and 200í wide.††And it should come as no surprise that explosive control work in uncompacted terrain at the ski areas continues to release large and destructive avalanches.††These dimensions are on the lower end of the average slides taking place in the backcountry.


For today, human triggered avalanches will continue to be probable in steep terrain.Any slide triggered will likely be large and very dangerous as plenty of the slides have been tree-snappers.Avalanches can still be triggered from a distance and from lower angled terrain.With these hard slabs, it will be possible to trigger a slide down on top of you from the valley below, or get dragged from lower angled terrain thatís attached to a steeper adjacent slope.Most old-timers are at the resorts, rock climbing, or hiding under the bed.


Also yesterdayís gusty winds may have produced some sensitive wind drifts along the upper elevations.Finally, todayís extremely warm temperatures will cause continued wet sluffing, rollerballs and occasional wet slabs at lower elevations and on sun exposed slopes.


Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains):The danger remains CONSIDERABLE on and below any steep slope at the mid and upper elevations.Those without excellent avalanche and route finding skills should avoid the backcountry.Human triggered avalanches will be probable, with naturals possible.


Mountain Weather:

Itíll be mostly sunny with 10,000í temps near 40 with 8000í highs in the upper 40ís, again.Winds will be 15-20mph from the west.A weak brush-by on Monday and a chance of some more snow by about mid week.


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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 Monday morning, and thanks for calling.