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

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 30, 2004, and its 7:30 in the morning. 


During major storms, UDOT may conduct avalanche control operations above the highways in the Cottonwood Canyons and Provo Canyon at any time.  For more information call 801-742-2927 or 801-742-2033.  UDOT will be doing control work in Provo Canyon this morning.  The ice climbing from the Bridalveil/Nunns Park parking lot to Frazier Park will be closed from 10 AM until control work is complete.


Current Conditions:

If you’re particularly fond of clouds, snow, strong southwest winds and avalanches, then you’re in luck, because that’s about all I can see coming for the next week or so.  Yesterday was the first day of this protracted stormy period.  Snow amounts vary quite dramatically and favor places that do well on a southerly flow.  The Timpanogos area, Park City and the Cottonwood Canyons seemed to come out well with 4-12 inches overnight and 15-20 inches in the past 24 hours with storm totals as much as 30 inches.  Water weights in favored areas total up to over two inches.  The Ogden and Logan area mountains seem to have around a foot of snow and some places around Zion Park and Cedar City have as much as 35 inches of snow with 3.5 inches of water weight.  This morning, ridge top temperatures are around 20 degrees with—you guessed it—southwest ridge top winds around 20 mph and it’s still snowing.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday afternoon we had intense snow and ridge top winds blew from the south 35-40 mph with gusts as high as 80, which created widespread areas of sensitive, soft slabs and many people were able to trigger these.  They were mostly shallow and soft, 6 inches to a foot, but some were up to two feet deep.  Click HERE for photos yesterday.  Almost all of these were breaking on a density inversion within the news snow and only some of them were sliding on pre-existing, hard crusts and faceted snow, but as the weight adds up, we will see more and more of them breaking into deeper, older layers.  For instance, one person witnessed a large natural avalanche in Y-couloir from the Little Cottonwood Canyon road with debris chunks as big as a car, so these deeper avalanches seem to be starting in some areas.  As new snow and wind continues, things will continue to get more interesting.  Click HERE for a current snow profile graphic.


Bottom Line:

I have issued a “Special Avalanche Advisory” today for all of the mountains of Utah for people without good avalanche skills to avoid avalanche terrain.  The avalanche danger varies quite a bit depending on new snow and wind.  On steep slopes with more than about 1.5 feet of snow and on slopes with recent wind drifts, the avalanche danger is HIGH.  Steep slopes without wind drifts or less than a foot of snow have a CONSIDERABLE danger.  People without excellent avalanche skills should avoid avalanche terrain today.


Mountain Weather:

Today we have a bit of a rest with light snow showers and clouds with ridge top winds from the southwest at around 20 mph and ridge top temperatures around 20 degrees.  Tonight, and Friday we should get the next wave of heavy snow and very strong southwest ridge top winds with probably another foot of snow and ridge top winds around 50, gusting to 70.   


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather and most likely will not fly today.  If they do they will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine and American Fork.


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


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


We do an early morning update around 6am each day on the 364-1591 line.


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.


Brett Kobernik and Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday morning.


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: