Wasatch Cache National Forest

In partnership with: Utah State Parks and Recreation, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security and Salt Lake County.

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Avalanche advisory

Wednesday, January 26, 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 26, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Tonight there will be a free, short video and a panel discussion entitled “Avalanches – Weather, Mountains, and Risk at the Salt Lake Library, starting at 7:00 pm.  The panelists are Larry Dunn, Jim Steenburg, John Sohl, Mike Jenkins and Bruce Tremper. 


And then this Friday, January 28th, Brett Kobernik will be giving a free avalanche talk at Milosport in Orem at 7 pm.


Current Conditions:

Skies were clear most of the night, and there was a good refreeze at all elevations for the second night in a row.  This morning, temperatures are in the low to mid 20’s at 9 to 10,000’ and in the teens in the mountain valleys.  Winds are light, less than 10 mph, from the southwest.  The snow surface is a mix of sun and wind crusts, both supportable and breakable, with a few patches of soft, recrystalized snow on very shady, sheltered slopes.  Today’s mostly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures will most likely prevent the crusts from softening. 


Avalanche Conditions:

No new activity was reported from the backcountry yesterday, and the 36 hour cooling trend is helping stabilize the snow on all aspects.  However, never, ever trust a snowpack with hard slabs or buried facets.  They always surprise you when you let your guard down or least expect it.  So there are still isolated slopes where a person could trigger a slide – most likely by hitting a shallower spot on a steep, northwest through east facing slope, at mid and upper elevations.  Carefully evaluate any steep slope you travel on and realize the unique signature of slides this month has been their large size. 

Also, stay well back from cornices and avoid travel beneath the glide cracks that have formed on a variety of slopes.


For the future, the expected small amounts of new snow will give us dust on crust, with some sluffing.  But the snow may also bury and preserve surface hoar and near surface facets, especially in drainage bottoms.  Also keep an eye on the loose, weakening snow under some of the crusts.


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

Most slopes have a LOW avalanche danger.  There is still an isolated chance of triggering a deeper slide, especially on steep slopes with a weak thin snowpack, facing northwest through east, and on these slopes the avalanche danger is MODERATE.  


Mountain Weather:

A series of weak disturbances will move over the area through the weekend, with light winds and minimal snowfall amounts.  Skies have already become mostly cloudy, and there is chance of a few snow showers this afternoon.  Highs will be in the upper 30’s at 8,000’ and only the mid 20’s at 10,000’.  The southwesterly winds will be light, in the 10 to 15 mph range.  Snow showers tonight, with 1 to 3” possible and lows in the mid 20’s.  Skies will be cloudy again on Thursday, with another few inches of snow possible.


Yesterday Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork and Cascade Ridge.  Weather permitting, they will be in Cascade, Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver and Grizzly today.


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.


The new Friends of the UAC web page is up and operational.  Check it out at www.avalanche.org then click on Salt Lake City.  They have also reserved the domain name www.utahavalanchecenter.com, which will take you to the same site as well.  Thanks for all the feedback.  We think we have fixed most of the bugs, but if you find anything, let us know.




If you see anything we ought to know about please call and leave a message at 524-5304, or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected], remember we can’t be everywhere at once, so we depend on people just like you. 


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: