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, February 02, 2005


Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, February 02, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Our partner, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, has two upcoming events.  Tickets are now on sale for the annual Banff Film Festival, February 16 & 17, at Kingsbury Hall. All proceeds benefit the Utah Avalanche Center.  For more information call 801/581-8516 or go to www.banffmountainfestivals.ca.

Also the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center has some openings left in their February 3-day avalanche class, the 19-21st.  Registration is at Black Diamond retail.


Current Conditions:

Don’t you love it when you have an experience that’s better then you anticipated?  That was the case with the riding conditions I found yesterday.  The few traces of snow the mountains received over the last few days are keeping conditions decent.  Currently, skies are clear with ridge top temperatures in the mid teens and ridge top wind speeds are from the northeast in the 15 mph range gusting to the mid 20’s at higher elevations.


Avalanche Conditions:

The weakest layer currently is within the snow that we’ve received in the past week.  One of our observers was able to trigger an avalanche in a fresh wind slab on Tuesday in Hogum Fork.  It was 8-10” deep, 40-50’ wide and ran farther then expected, around 1500 feet vertical.  This was on a northwest aspect at around 10,400 feet and was intentionally triggered from a ski cut.  Once it broke, an old bed surface from January provided an excellent sliding plane for the snow to really get moving and produce a good size dust cloud.  Current wind speeds along the ridges are enough to support snow transport so you may find new sensitive fresh drifts today, as well as others that formed a few days ago.  Slope or ski cuts can be useful with these.  Also, keep in mind that there are a number of firm crusts that will act as a good bed surface if you happen to trigger one of these wind slabs.  


A number of observers from yesterday noted that the snow surface was sluffing quite easy on steeper slopes and entraining good amounts of snow, enough to possibly knock you over.  Keep this in mind today as well.


Most southerly facing slopes have gone through a couple of melt freeze cycles which will make it harder for the sun to loosen up the snow but you should still watch for wet activity on the southerly aspects today.  Keep an eye out for pinwheels and rollerballs as these are the first signs that the slope is heating up.  Loose snow point releases usually follow.  For a few more details on the snowpack call 364-1591.


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

The avalanche danger is LOW on most slopes today.  There is a MODERATE danger on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find a sensitive wind slab in the higher terrain today.  Keep in mind that you may see loose snow sluffs on steep shady slopes.  Watch the southern aspects for wet activity as heating occurs today as well.


Mountain Weather:

High pressure will affect the area until Friday.  Today we’ll see mostly clear skies with northeast winds at around 15 mph along the ridges.  8000’ temperatures will be in the upper 30’s and 10,000’ temperatures in the upper 20’s. 


The ridge of high pressure will flatten out for the weekend with a disturbance on Saturday then a better shot for snow on Sunday into Monday.


Don’t be shy about calling or e-mailing us with any observations you have.  The more information we receive translates to better quality advisories.  The phone number is 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected].


Yesterday Powderbird Guides were not able to fly.  Today they’ll be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly with another helicopter in the Cascade ridge area possibly doing a few runs in American Fork and White Pine.


Snowbird is hosting the 2nd annual Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Week, now through February 7th, as a benefit for the Utah Avalanche Center.  On February 5th and 6th, there will be a variety of classes offered at Snowbird.  For more information, go to www.backcountryawareness.com.


Brett Kobernik will be giving a free avalanche awareness talk at the SLC Milosport on Friday, February 11th, at 7pm.




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: