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

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Good Morning.  This is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Saturday, December 18, 2004, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Tonight is the night - Wasatch Backcountry Rescue’s fundraiser in Park City is at 7 pm at Suede.  Tickets are available at SmithTix.


We’d like to give a big Thanks to one of our avalanche education partners, Brighton Ski Resort, for hosting a very successful ‘Know Before You Go’ avalanche awareness talk this week.


Free Beacon Rescue Training Centers are now open at Snowbird and the Canyons.  For more information go to wasatchbackcountryrescue.org.


Current Conditions: 

Skies are clear this morning, and temperatures are in the upper teens to mid 20’s at 10,000’.  The northwesterly winds were a bit brisk last night across the upper ridgelines, but have now dropped into the 15 to 20 mph range at the highest stations, and to less than 10 mph elsewhere.


I’ve always thought crusts belonged exclusively on French bread and apple pies, but that is certainly not the case these days.   Both supportable and unsupportable crusts cover the majority of backcountry slopes, with only a few select shady slopes having patches of soft snow.   Some of the thicker crusts should soften nicely with today’s warmer temperatures. 


Avalanche Conditions:

Avalanche activity is decreasing in the backcountry, with no new slides reported yesterday, and only explosive triggered slides on Thursday.  However, there are still places where a person could trigger a dangerous hard slab 2 to 4’ deep, and the consequences of being caught in one of these deep slides would be grim.  The slide would fail on a weak layer of faceted snow, and the nature of this instability may allow multiple skiers or riders to cross a slope before it fails. The most likely place to trigger a slide would be at the mid and upper elevations, on a steep, shady slope, especially in a shallow or rocky snowpack area.  This just may be the season to avoid those steep shady slopes unless they have recently slid.


Click HERE for a generalized snow profile graphic


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, facing northwest thorough east.  While there are only localized areas where a person could trigger a slide, if you do it will be large with serious consequences.  The avalanche danger is LOW on slopes less steep than about 35 degrees that are not below or adjacent to steeper slopes.


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


Mountain Weather:

High pressure will be over the area for the weekend, bringing clear skies and warming temperatures to the northern mountains.  Temperatures today should warm to near 30 at 10,000’ and 40 at 8,000’.  Winds will be from the northwest, generally less than 15 mph.  Wind speeds may occasionally be higher across the tallest peaks.  Colder, windy weather is in store for Monday and Tuesday, with some light snow possible.


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


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cardiff, Silver, Day’s, Grizzly, White Pine and American Fork yesterday and today they will operate in the same areas except not in White Pine. 


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.


Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling!




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: