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

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, January 02, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

Add a trace to one to Friday night’s 8 to 16” of new snow, running storm totals from Tuesday night to 3 to 5’ in the Cottonwoods, 2 to 4’ on the Park City side, and 3 to 4 feet in the western Uinta mountains and 2 feet in the Provo, Ogden and Logan mountains.  The southwest winds picked up again in the afternoon, and after shifting to the southeast overnight, are still averaging 20-25 mph with gusts into the 40’s.  Temperatures are in the mid-teens at 10,000’.  Snow surface conditions are stellar.


Avalanche Conditions:

There were numerous human triggered avalanches across the range yesterday with multiple close calls and one skier sustaining serious injuries.  This event was in an out of bounds area adjacent to the Snowbasin ski area where three were caught and carried nearly 2000’.  Each was able to extricate themselves out of the debris and had to straggle out of the way as another ski party triggered an even larger avalanche down upon them.  Elsewhere, in Silver Fork of Big Cottonwood, a party remotely triggered a slide 2-3’ deep by 200’ wide, then intentionally triggered another 2’ by 200’ wide on their way out.  In the Provo area mountains, a skier triggered a 2-3’ by 100’ slide into old snow and self-arrested into the bed surface as the slab washed by.  Control work at the resorts produced some avalanches into the November facets as well as some monsters being reported larger than 10’ deep.  Information on these and other avalanches can be found here by about 10am. 


It’s a quite complex and tricky situation in the backcountry.  Before the storms, the snow surfaces were an array of hard sun and wind crusts and faceted snow.  Compounding the complexity are the snow amounts and wind affect with the storms, as these varied dramatically among drainages and with elevation.  Many avalanches are being triggered at the interface before Friday night’s new snow, many are going at the original new and old snow interface from Tuesday, and some are even pulling out into the November facets.  Get the picture?  What is clear is that with this variability, doing a snow pit in one place will tell you only about that one spot and not about the snow 15 turns down the slope or 100 yards down the ridgeline.   My recommendation is that if you just can’t wait to allow the instabilities to settle out for another day or so, stick to slopes in the low 30 degree range and follow the strictest travel protocol.   


Bottom Line:

Today, the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper, especially with recent drifts of wind blown snow, which includes the mid-elevations.  The danger is MODERATE on slopes of about 30 to 35 degrees. 


Mountain Weather:

We’ll have mostly cloudy skies with a trace or so expected during the day.  Winds will be 20mph from the southwest.  8000’ highs will be in the mid-twenties with 10,000’ temps hovering near twenty.  It looks like South and Central Utah will get the storms early in the week with the north getting the spillover.  The north looks to get its share by Friday.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather and if possible, will be in American Fork and Snake Creek.


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.


I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: