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

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is the first day of winter, December 21, 2004, and its 7:30 in the morning. 


Registration for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center’s 3-day January avalanche class is now being taken at Black Diamond retail.


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


Current Conditions: 

A cold northerly flow is over the area this morning, with clear skies and temperatures in the single digits to low teens.  The northwesterly winds are mostly in the 10 to 20 mph range, but across the highest peaks they are closer to 30, with gusts in the 40’s. 


There is a reason why those trailhead parking lots are almost empty – patches of soft snow are few and far between, and surrounded by inconsistent crusts.  But if clean air, sunshine and solitude are on your agenda, the Wasatch backcountry is as good as ever.  Snowshoes or snowmobiles may be great way to get around.


Avalanche Conditions:

The only report of backcountry avalanche activity yesterday came from the Provo area mountains, where some activity was observed in the Aspen Grove area.  The slides initiated higher up, probably as a result of yesterday’s strong westerly winds.  I expect there are still sensitive winds drifts a person could trigger today, mostly along upper elevation ridgelines.


Although the snowpack has had over a week to strengthen, it’s not safe to assume that any slope is stable. At the mid and upper elevations, 2 to 4 feet of dense snow overlie a persistent weak layer of faceted snow.  Backcountry users still have the potential to trigger these hard slabs if a weak point on the slope is found.  The most likely place to trigger a slide would be on a steep, northwest through easterly facing slope in a shallow, rocky snowpack area.  


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

The avalanche danger is LOW in most areas.  A MODERATE danger remains on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, facing northwest thorough east.  This danger may be more widespread outside of the Tri Canyons, in areas where the snowpack is shallower.  There is also a MODERATE danger on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.


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


Mountain Weather:

A cold, northerly flow will remain over the area through Thursday, with an embedded trough moving through this evening.  Clouds will increase today, with a chance of snow by evening.  About 2 to 4” of snow are possible by morning.  Winds today will be from the northwest, in the 15 to 20 mph range, with occasionally stronger speeds across the highest ridges.  High temperatures will be near 20 at 8,000’ and 15 at 10,000’.  Wednesday will be mostly cloudy and even colder, with temperatures struggling to reach 15 at 8,000’ and in the low single digits 10,000’.  I’ll have our mountain weather forecast out by about noon.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday, and today will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine and American Fork.


Early birds and snow geeks can catch our more detailed information line at 364-1591.  It’s usually out by 6am


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.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Wednesday morning.


Thanks for calling!




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: