Wasatch Cache National Forest

In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Salt Lake County, and Utah State Parks


The Utah Avalanche Center Home page is: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/


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Avalanche advisory

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


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 15, 2004, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Wasatch Backcountry Rescue will be having a fundraiser Saturday night in Park City at 7 pm at Suede.  Tickets are available at SmithTix.


A free Beacon Rescue Training Center is now open at Snowbird and a second one will open at Canyons on Thursday.  For more information go to wasatchbackcountryrescue.org.


Current Conditions: 

Ridge top temperatures have dropped about ten degrees from yesterday and they are 15-20 degrees this morning.  The winds have picked up to 20 mph from the northwest.  With very warm temperatures and sun over the last few days, the recent cooling has made a delightful variety of crusts that will bring smiles to even the most hardened masochists.  But there is still some passable, soft, settled powder on northerly facing slopes but getting there and back is another story.


Avalanche Conditions:

For a change, we didn’t hear about any more human triggered avalanches yesterday.  The buried weak layer of faceted snow continues to gain strength and cooling temperatures will stiffen up the overlying slab making avalanches more difficult to trigger—at least in theory.  (click HERE for a generalized snow profile graphic) The bad news is that if you do trigger one, it will be a deep, wide moster and difficult to survive.  So we’re back to that kind of setup with localized areas of lingering booby traps that will smack you a good one if you bumble into one.  You’ll find them mostly on steep slopes that face the north half of the compass, as well as east facing slopes and worse in thin snowpack areas.  Continue to practice your full repertoire of safe travel techniques—one at a time, have an escape route planned and use the right equipment.


Also, the increasing wind has created some isolated wind slabs, mostly along the upper elevation ridges.  As always, avoid steep slopes with recent wind deposits.


Bottom Line (SLC, Park City, Ogden and Provo Area Mountains):

The avalanche danger is MODERATE with CONSIDERABLE consequences on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, facing northwest thorough east or slopes that have fresh drifts of wind blown snow.  If you want LOW danger today, stay on slopes less than 30 degrees and out from underneath steeper slopes.


Western Uintas – call 1-800-648-7433 or click here for weekend and holiday forecasts.


Mountain Weather:

There’s a very weak system coming out of the north that will give us some clouds tonight and maybe even a few snowflakes.  Ridge top winds will blow today from the north and northeast 20-25 mph and ridge top temperatures will cool down to 17 degrees.  Down at 8,000’ the high should be in the mid 20’s with overnight lows in the mid teens.


As for the extended forecast, ridge top temperatures will warm up to freezing by Friday morning with light and variable winds.  Beyond that, I don’t see any significant snow in the forecast until around Christmas. 


For more detailed weather information visit the National Weather Service web site.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides will begin flying today and will do reconnaissance missions in Silver, Days and Cardiff fork as well as in American Fork.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or email to [email protected] or fax to 801-524-6301.  The information in this advisory is from the U.S. 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 on Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling!




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: