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

Sunday, February 13, 2005
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, February 13th 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

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

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, and all proceeds benefit the Utah Avalanche Center.  For more information call 801/581-8516 or go to www.banffmountainfestivals.ca. 

Current Conditions:
Heavy wet snow continued to drip in yesterday pushing storm totals to 6-8” in the Provo and Ogden mountains and 4-6” in the Central Wasatch.  The 12-14% densities would make a pacific northwester feel right at home.  This morning, skies are clear and temperatures are in the mid to upper teens.  The northwesterly winds spiked overnight, averaging 30mph with gusts to 50, but have since calmed to 15mph or so. 

Avalanche Conditions:
The avalanche problems were more pronounced in the Ogden and Provo mountains, as the heavy new snow overloaded the old settled 5% storm from last week and the extremely weak faceted snow beneath that.  The Provo mountains experienced an interesting natural cycle early morning on the north through east aspects at an elevation band of 7-8000’.  These were 12-18” deep and up to 150’ wide, running on faceted snow formed during the January dry spell.  Out to investigate the naturals, I was able to remotely trigger a similar avalanche from low angled terrain.   In the Ogden mountains, backcountry parties experienced widespread cracking and collapsing and were able to trigger one slab in the new snow at the new snow/old snow interface.  

It would be great to be able to describe the avalanche conditions in a nice tidy box, but I can’t, so pull out the notebook.  We’ve got all the heavy new snow sitting on top of the light density snow from last week, localized wind drifts from the stronger northwesterly winds at the higher elevations, and, at least at the mid and low shady slopes, persistent weak faceted grains that may still be active when collapsed by the weight of a backcountry traveler.  And with clear skies, we’ll start to see wet loose sluffs on the sunny slopes by midday.

It’ll be important to poke around in the snow, isolate some columns, and see if the new snow is bonding more favorably or how reactive the buried facets and surface hoar are.  Snowpit tests and test slopes will be some of the pieces of the puzzle.  Cracking and collapsing will also be immediate gratification signs of instability. 

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Provo, and Ogden mountains):
he avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Avalanches may still be triggered at a distance and will be more pronounced on the northwest through easterly facing slopes at the mid and low elevations.

Mountain Weather:
Clear skies will give way to increasing clouds ahead of the next storm system slated to affect the Wasatch.  Winds today will be 15-20mph out of the northwest increasing to 25mph by mid-afternoon.  8000’ highs will be in the low thirties with 10,000’ temps in the upper twenties. 


Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird guides didn’t get out and today will be in AF, Lamb’s, the Sessions and Cascade. 

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].  Fax is 524-6301.

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.


Early birds can catch our early morning report at 6am by calling 364-1591.

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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.

Thanks for calling.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: