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, January 01, 2005


Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Saturday, January 01, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning. 


I have continued the avalanche warning for the northern Utah mountains.  A CONSIDERABLE to HIGH avalanche danger exists, and people with out good backcountry avalanche skills should avoid avalanche terrain today.   


Current Conditions:

The cold front swept through northern Utah last night, leaving 8 to 16” of new snow in its wake, and lingering snow showers this morning.  Since Tuesday night, 3 to 5’ of snow has fallen in the Cottonwoods, 2 to 4’ on the Park City side, with about 3 to 4 feet in the western Uinta mountains and 2 feet in the Provo, Ogden and Logan mountains.  The southeast winds blasted in the 35 to 45 mph range yesterday, but rapidly decreased as they shifted to the west last night.  Currently, they’re in the 10 to 20 mph range.  Temperatures have dropped into the teens at most locations.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, there were 4 skier triggered slides in the Ogden area mountains.  They were 20 to 60 feet wide, breaking on the old snow surface about a foot deep, and one person did take a 100’ ride.  In the Salt Lake and Park City mountains, control work produced slides from both explosives and ski cuts, with some breaking at the old snow surface.  Cornices and wind drifts varied from stubborn to sensitive, with many of the drifts at mid elevations or well off the ridgelines.  This morning, the new snow is hiding all the old wind drifts.


Assessing snow pack stability will be tricky today.  There is wide variation in the snowpack due to the variety of old snow surfaces, differing snow amounts and the complex pattern of wind drifting.  If you do trigger a slide, it will be 1 1/2 to over 3’ deep and in a few places could break deeper into old snow layers.   Of special note – the mountains have finally received mid and low elevation snow, which fell on a shallow, weak snow pack in some places, like Mill Creek, and steep slopes may be unusually sensitive in these areas.


With these complex avalanche conditions, consider traveling on lower angle slopes, avoid having steep slopes above you, and reevaluate the snowpack stability often as it changes rapidly over short distances.


Click HERE for a current snow profile graphic.


Bottom Line:

Today, the avalanche danger is HIGH on slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper, especially with recent drifts of wind blown snow.  High means both natural and human triggered slides are likely.   The danger is MODERATE on slopes of about 30 to 35 degrees. 


Mountain Weather:

The storm system will move east out of Utah this morning.  It will be mostly cloudy today, with the lingering snow showers ending by noon.  Winds will be in the 10 to 20 mph range from the southwest.  Highs will be near 20 at 8,000’ and 15 at 10,000’.  A weak ridge of high pressure will be over the area for the remainder of the weekend.  Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy, with occasional snow showers.  Winds will increase again on Sunday ahead of the next storm forecast to arrive as early as Monday night. 


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.


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


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: