Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Good morning, this Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory. Today is Thursday, January 20, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.


Brett Kobernik will be giving a free Know Before You Go avalanche awareness talk at the Park City Milosport tomorrow night, January 21st, at 7 pm.


Current Conditions:

The January thaw is officially here, complete with a strong temperature inversion. As of 5 am, the mountain valley bottoms are generally in the 20s and 30s, and the 10 to 11,000 peaks have temperatures in the 40 to 45 degree range. Winds are light and variable, less than 10 mph. Some dense, soft snow exists on upper elevation north and northeast facing slopes. On other slopes, any shallow refreeze of the snow surface will rapidly warm today, and the snow will become damp to down right soggy.


Avalanche Conditions:

Im starting to think the current avalanche cycle may not end until the snow is melted and down in the Great Salt Lake. Yesterday, explosive testing in the backcountry triggered another monster hard slab. One shot brought out all of Red Baldy face in upper White Pine. This is a steep, upper elevation northwest facing slope, and the slide is 5 deep by 900 wide. The burning two questions are: could a person trigger one of these slides, and in how many places? Personally, I do think there are isolated places where a person could trigger one of these unsurvivable enormous hard slabs most likely by traveling over a shallow or rocky spot on a steep, mid or upper elevation, northwest through southeast facing slope. The unusually warm temperatures may actually increase the possibility of a sluff or person being able to trigger one of these deep slabs. Its just not worth it.


Wet, loose sluffs were also reported yesterday on steep, mostly sunny slopes, with the largest in the Provo area mountains running over 1,500 vertical. A fresh damp sluff was also reported from the north facing Y-Not couloir in LCC. These sluffs can entrain snow as they move down slope, resulting in sizable debris piles. With a night of very warm, nonfreezing temperatures behind us, I expect more widespread wet snow activity today. As the snow heats up, get off of and out from under steep, sunny slopes. Avoid terrain traps such as gullies or abrupt transitions where snow from even a small slide can pile up deeply.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper. Human triggered avalanches are possible. The avalanche danger will rise to COINSIDERABLE with daytime heating, especially on and below steep sunny slopes. A considerable avalanche danger means human triggered avalanches are probable and natural avalanches possible.


Mountain Weather:

Another day of clear, sunny skies and very warm temperatures is in store for the mountains. Temperatures will reach the upper 40s at 8,000 and the mid 40s at 10,000. Winds will be from the southwest, generally less than 15 mph. The high pressure ridge centered over Utah will flatten tonight through Friday as a weak trough moves by to the north. Skies will become partly cloudy and temperatures will cool by about 10 degrees, to near freezing at 10,000. Then high pressure will return for the weekend.


Yesterday Powderbird Guides flew in White Pine, and if possible will be operating today in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Alexander, Porter, Grizzly and Cascade Ridge.




The new UAC web page is up and operational. Check it out at www.avalanche.org then click on Salt Lake City. Thanks for all the feedback well try to correct the bugs as fast as you point them out. You may need to hit refresh in your browser if it does not open up.


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 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 appreciate hearing from you especially if you have information about recent avalanche activity so dont hesitate to call and leave a message at 524-5304, or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected]


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

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