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

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, January 05, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

The storm finally pulled into town last night, and as of 6 am, new snow amounts vary from 4 to 7”, with densities of 5%.  The winds have just shifted to the west, and should increase into the 10 to 20 mph range later this morning.  Temperatures are in the teens.  There is powder, powder, powder as far as the eye can see, on all aspects and elevations, and yesterday low angle slopes had superb riding and snowshoeing conditions.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, ski cuts easily released the new wind drifts that were formed by the strong southeasterly winds.  These drifts averaged 12 to 20” deep, and are now hidden under the new snow.  New snow avalanche problems today will include these older drifts, plus any fresh wind drifts that form along the ridgelines.  Loose sluffs within the new snow will also be possible on steep slopes.


Yesterday was the first day since December 31st that there were no reports of deeper slides being triggered.  In the 4 day period ending January 3rd, there were 20 human triggered slides in the backcountry, with most breaking on the loose, faceted snow that was on or near the surface around Christmas.  These slides averaged 1-3’ deep, 1 - 200’ wide, were on north through southeast facing slopes and all but one was below 10,000'. 


Before the last storm, the old snow surface was as variable as cell phone calling plans, and it is very difficult to determine exactly which slope may slide with your added weight.  While there are only localized places where a person could trigger one of these deep slides, if you do it will be large and dangerous (Limelight, PC ridgeline, 1/2/05).  


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on northwest through southeast facing slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper, and on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  This means human triggered avalanches are probable and natural avalanches possible.  Other steep slopes have a MODERATE danger.  If the winds increase more than forecast, the new wind drifts will become more widespread and sensitive.


Mountain Weather:

A moist, westerly flow over northern Utah will continue to produce mountain snow into this evening.  An additional 6 to 9” are expected today and 2 to 4” tonight.  The westerly winds should behave and remain in the 10 to 20 mph range today, with temperatures near 20 at 8,000’ and 15 at 10,000’.  Thursday will be partly cloudy, with a few lingering snow showers in the morning.  Then we’re back to a strong, moist southwest flow Friday through Monday, with blistering winds and periods of snow.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather and if possible, will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine and American Fork today.


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 Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: