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 12, 2005


Good morning, this Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, January 12, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


A Special Avalanche Statement is in effect for most of the mountains of Utah.  Recent heavy snow and the current strong winds are keeping the avalanche danger HIGH.




Current Conditions:

I think we are finally starting to see a bit of blue at the end of the storm.  Snow fall tapered off yesterday evening, and most areas received about 4” overnight, with 24 hour snow totals of about a foot.  Winds shifted to the northwest with frontal passage and overnight increased across the higher peaks into the 25 to 35 mph range, with gusts in the 40’s and 50’s.  Temperatures are more winter like, in the single digits and low teens.


Avalanche Conditions:

Our two week storm cycle has slammed 5 to 10” of water weight onto the existing snow pack, overloading several buried weak layers.  So once again, numerous deep, large slides were reported in steep terrain yesterday, both natural and explosive triggered.  Crowns averaged 3 to 6 feet deep, several were hundreds of feet wide, and one crown was about a mile in length.  Many removed large timber in their track, and a number of paths ran bigger and deeper than has been seen in over 30 years.  Here are some great photos of the Dog Leg Chutes natural; photo 2.  Even new snow slides were wide and far running.  With partially clearing skies, sightseeing may be remarkable today.


The moderate to strong winds will continue the avalanche cycle today by creating sensitive drifts of wind blown snow.  Once triggered or releasing naturally, the weight of these new snow avalanches has the potential to trigger a deeper, larger slide. 


Backcountry travel is not recommended for people without excellent travel skills.  While rather limited, wind sheltered, low angle terrain with no steep slopes above does exist in the Wasatch.  But if you do head out today, you need to think BIG when estimating potential runout zones for any steep slopes.  If you travel along ridgelines today, stay well back from sensitive cornices.   


Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden and Provo mountains):

The avalanche danger is HIGH, and both human triggered and natural avalanches are likely.  Stay of off and out from underneath any steep slope, especially those being drifted with wind blown snow.  The potential still exists for large, long running avalanches.


Mountain Weather:

A stable air mass has moved into the area this morning, and skies should slowly clear. Unfortunately, moderate to strong northwesterly winds will persist through at least tomorrow, with 25 to 35 mph averages are expected across the higher ridges.  Temperatures will be near 20 at 8,000’ and near 10 at 10,000’.  A pocket of colder air moving in tonight will create mostly cloudy skies and produce a few snow showers late this afternoon and tonight.  Next chance for snow will be Friday into the weekend, as a weak wave slips under the ridge


Bruce Tremper will be giving a free avalanche awareness talk at the Treasure Mountain Middle School in Park City this Saturday night at 7 pm.


There are a few spots left in the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center’s 3-day January 15-17 avalanche class.  Registration is at the Black Diamond retail store.


Snowbird is hosting its 2nd annual Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Week January 31 – February 7th as a benefit for the Utah Avalanche Center.  On Friday, February 4th, there will be a fundraising dinner at Snowbird with presentations by Dave Breashears and Apa Sherpa and Lhapka Rita.  On February 5th and 6th, there will be a variety of classes offered at Snowbird.  For more information, go to www.backcountryawareness.com.


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


If you are getting into the backcountry and see anything we should know about, give us a call at 524-5304, or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected]

Your information is very valuable to us.


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 Thursday morning.


Thanks for calling



For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: