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, January 13, 2005

 

Good morning, this Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Thursday, January 13, 2005, and itís 7:30 in the morning.

 

AMERICAN FORK CANYON IS STILL CLOSED.UDOT HAS A NEW ROAD AND AVALANCHE HOTLINE FOR THE COTTONWOODS: 975-4838.

 

Avalanche Conditions:

Wow.After a 28-year professional avalanche career, I donít get impressed very often, but yesterday I witnessed the largest, most spectacular, natural avalanche Iíve ever seen outside of Alaska.Elk Point, near the Sundance Resort in the Provo area mountains released naturally yesterday around 11:00 am with a total fracture line width of over a half mile and 4-8 feet deep.It descended down three different major avalanche paths with a huge dust cloud and it mowed down at least two football fields of mature timber.I have PHOTOS on the web, which are not to be missed. It was probably triggered by wind loading on the upper slopes as well as warming by the sun. Also, yesterday afternoon in the Uinta Mountains, a trail groomer noticed a large natural that broke trees. In the Salt Lake area mountains, control work for the highway in Big Cottonwood Canyon produced a large avalanche in Argenta, which broke 5-6 feet deep, 500 feet wide and descended around 3,000 vertical feet to the bench just above the road.They also got a smaller avalanche in Stairs Gulch, which didnít quite reach the road.Ski resorts continued to release a few deep, large avalanches that broke timber.

 

Yesterday was the first clear day after the storm and people got out to see quite widespread avalanche activity that occurred during the storm.In the Provo area mountains, I could see only a few avalanche paths that did not run.

 

Since the storm was so warm, the slab is so thick and the temperatures have cooled so much, I suspect that it will be hard for a person to trigger some of these deep monster avalanches, but if you do, it will be absolutely impossible to survive it. There may be a few more naturals come down today, so most smart folks I know continue to stay out from underneath big, steep slopes.Also, the winds blew hard from the northwest yesterday and overnight and this has made some areas of sensitive wind slabs along the upper elevation ridges, mostly on south and east facing slopes.As always, avoid steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.

 

People without good avalanche skills should continue to avoid the backcountry today.

 

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

There is a continued HIGH danger in the Provo area mountains. ††The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE in the Salt Lake and Ogden area mountains on slopes steeper than 35 degrees and above about 9,000í in elevation.You should continue to stay of off and out from underneath any steep slope, especially slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.Since the snow is so supportable, you can have plenty of fun on gentler slopes today so thereís no sense in tempting fate.

 

Mountain Weather:

Strong ridge top winds will continue to blow today from the northwest 20-30 mph, gusting to 40.Ridge top temperatures will be 5-10 degrees with 8,000í temperatures around 20 and an overnight low in the single digits.Skies should be clear again.For the extended forecast, we will have a weak disturbance on Saturday with a few clouds and light snow showers, but otherwise it should be clear for the next week or so, which will give us a much-needed break.

 

I will give 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 Centerís 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 Ė 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 Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman and also 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.

 

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

 

Thanks for calling

††

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings:

http://www.avalanche.org/usdanger.htm