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

Friday, February 11, 2005
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, February 10th 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

I will be giving a free avalanche awareness talk at the SLC Milosport tonight at 7pm.  There will even be some free swag awarded at the end for answering some random avalanche questions.

Current Conditions:
This morning you may still find some decent powder on northerly aspects.  Current ridgetop temperatures are in the mid twenties and winds are picking up from the south in the 15 to 20 mph range.  Conditions will change this afternoon as the freezing level will rise to around 9,000 feet.  Very wet snow will start falling this afternoon as well.

Avalanche Conditions:
The biggest concern today is any fresh slab formation on upper elevation terrain.  I received a few reports from Thursday of some slab avalanches that released both naturally and from human triggers.  The moderate wind speeds over the last 48 hours helped drift the snow into some sensitive slabs along the ridges.  Just the settlement of the new snow is forming slabs in some locations as well.  I describe this problem as manageable for experienced travelers but it could surprise someone who doesn’t recognize fresh slab formation.

Next, with warm weather in the forecast, people should avoid steeper terrain in the lower elevations today.  Wet snow may avalanche and pile up in terrain traps.  Today would not be the day to boot hike up the “Y” couloir for instance. 

Also, we should start thinking of what’s going to happen if we add some more snow to our snowpack.  The light density snow that’s on the surface has changed into a weak structure known as “faceted” snow.  The addition of new heavy density snow on top of the current surface completes the recipe for a slab which is a stronger layer of snow over a weaker layer.  Quick hand pits and various stability tests should easily reveal slab formation if it forms over the weekend.  Watch for cracking in the new snow as this is Mother Nature yelling at you that a slab is present.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains):
The avalanche danger is generally LOW today.  There remains a MODERATE danger on upper elevation steep slopes where the newest snow formed a slab, especially on wind drifted slopes.  The danger of wet activity will increase to MODERATE at the lower elevations as temperatures will be above freezing most of the day.  Keep in mind that the avalanche danger may rise dramatically over the weekend with the addition of dense new snow and wind.

Mountain Weather:
This morning we’ll see partly cloudy skies with increasing clouds as the day progresses.  10,000’ temperatures will be at about 30 degrees with 8,000 foot temperatures at 40.  Winds will be in the 15 to 20 mph range from the south.  Precipitation should start late this afternoon with the rain snow line around 8,000 feet.  The mountains should pick up a few inches of snow overnight and another 3 to 6 inches on Saturday.  This will be very dense snow with up to an inch of water expected in the Cottonwoods.  The Provo area mountains should receive a bit more with up to an inch and a half of water.  The Ogden area does not look like it will fair as well with less precipitation expected there.

The weather for next week looks to be quite active with a moist westerly flow affecting the area throughout the week.

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird guides flew in Cardiff, Days, Silver Fork, White Pine and American Fork.  Today they will be in White Pine and American Fork with an alpine tour in Red Pine and Maybird. 

We really appreciate any information you are willing to give us.  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 is hosting another event.  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. 

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

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.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday morning.

Thanks for calling

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: