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

Monday, February 07, 2005
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, February 07 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.

Current Conditions:
And I was starting to wonder if I still lived in Utah.  No more.  The first wave of this storm pushed through overnight producing some cold smoke of 5-6%.  As of 5am, storm totals across the range have the Park City and Ogden mountains picking up 10”, the Provo mountains 6-8”, and the Cottonwoods 14-18”.  And we should continue to see light to moderate snow throughout the day.  The Provo and Ogden mountains, more favored by the southwesterly winds had higher sustained winds in the 20-25mph range, but have since dropped off to 10-15mph.  Elsewhere across the range, the winds spiked for a few hours overnight averaging 15-20 with gusts into the 40’s, but as the flow has shifted more westerly, they’ve died down to less than 15mph.  Temps cooled with the storm and are in the teens above 9000’.   Hmm.  10-18” new.  Light winds.  Cooling temps.  Riding conditions might be ok.

Avalanche Conditions:
Remember, way back in early January, when the conditions were complex and tricky?  Well, here we are again.  Let’s start with the easy part.  All the new low density snow will sluff easily and naturally on many of the steepest slopes and should entrain most of the new snow along the way.  Along the higher ridgelines, I’d expect some sensitive new super-soft slabs formed by the wind spike overnight, drifting snow onto the already weak snow on the northerly slopes.  The problem is that these will be covered up by 6-8” of light density snow, luring you onto it.  More clear is that the new snow is unlikely to bond well with much of the weak recrystallized snow on the shady slopes, and it may be possible to see pockety naturals on steeper shady terrain in areas that received the most snow.  With a continued load, triggering slides from a distance may become possible.  ‘Repeater’ areas, that is, terrain that avalanched in the last cycle are primed as well: a slick hard bed surface overlain by very weak faceted snow, just waiting for a cohesive slab to come alive again. 

The gig for today will be to assess each slope individually, throwing in a slope cut or two, and moving through steep terrain one at a time.  Start in less exposed, lower angled terrain, nibbling along the sides rather than immediately center-punching your favorite big line.  Consider the consequences of getting caught in a slide and where you might end up.  It’ll be tough to keep the enthusiasm in check, but we’ve had enough of statistics this season. 

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains):
Steep wind drifted slopes and areas that received the most snow will have a CONSIDERABLE danger today.  The Provo, Ogden, and Park City mountains may have more widespread drifting, with the drifting in the Tri-canyons most likely limited to upper elevation north through easterly terrain.  Human triggered slides in these areas will be probable, with naturals possible.  Elsewhere, the danger is MODERATE.  The danger of dry sluff avalanches will be CONSIDERABLE as well, with natural loose snow avalanches expected.

Mountain Weather:
We’ll have overcast skies with snow showers over the course of the day.  By late afternoon, early evening, instability and dynamics will give us another burst of snow, particularly in areas favored by a northwest flow.  We could pick up another 3-6” today, and another 4-8” tonight.  Winds should remain 10-15mph from the southwest, veering to the northwest by late afternoon.  8000’ highs will be in the mid-twenties with 10,000’ temps in the mid-teens.  We could see continued showery weather through tomorrow morning, with a series of weak splitty storms for the rest of the week.

The Powderbird Guides will not fly today due to weather.

We really appreciate any information you are willing to give us.  We don’t hear from you enough.  You don’t have to be an avalanche expert to give us some observations so please call and leave a message on our answering machine at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected].

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

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

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

Bruce Tremper will give a talk called the Science of Avalanches at REI on Tuesday, February 15th at 7:00 pm.


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 Monday morning.

Thanks for calling

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